Tonight, Lokeren play Standard Liege and the Belgian media has been focusing on a young South African, Ayanda Patosi, who plays for the Flemish club and who was relatively unknown until a few weeks ago. But, in football, one man’s dream opportunity can lead to someone else’s big break. Last summer, Genk centre forward Christian Benteke went on strike in order to force a move to the Premier League. His tactics, while not pleasing his team-mates who had a Europa League fixture or the Genk fans, worked and he was off to Aston Villa. Genk moved quickly and signed Benjamin De Ceulaer, now in the Belgium national team squad, from Lokeren. That, in turn, meant that Patosi would get more opportunities.
Patosi has just turned 20 and is from Khayelitsha, one of the Cape Town townships. He arrived at Lokeren in the summer of 2011 and as he says, he’s not here to enjoy himself. He sends back money to his mother and siblings and that means he has to work hard. On the pitch, Patosi has been playing on the left wing but he’s likely to play more centrally in future. Lokeren have won their last four games and Patosi has hit four goals in his last five games. He’s an explosive player and Lokeren team-mate Jérémy Taravel says Patosi could be a really good player if he focuses and mixes with the right crowd. Back in March, Genk’s Anele Ngcongca tipped Patosi to be a future star for Bafana Bafana.
But tonight the focus is on taking three points against Standard. Lokeren are fourth in the Jupiler League and their form has been so good that coach Peter Maes has been linked with Club Brugge. He’s likely to stay for the season though, before a bigger club beckons. As for Patosi, he’s focusing on his football and his family back home.
Note: Some reporting taken from Jonathan Lange’s article in ‘La DH’.