11 best South African soccer players in 2024

Silvester Gachinga

South Africa is renowned for having world-class sporting facilities and has hosted the Africa Cup of Nations events twice.

In addition, the country won its first and only AFCON title in its debut appearance in 1996.

South Africa is the only African nation that has hosted the global FIFA World Cup showpiece. The tournament cemented South Africa’s place on the continental stage.

The country is an African football powerhouse, and its players are some of the most talented.

Here is a list of the best South African footballers.

1. Lyle Brent Foster

Lyle Brent Foster raising his hands
Lyle Brent Foster. Image: X/ SAFL_Legion
  • Position: Center-forward
  • Current Team: Burnley
  • Previous Teams: Orlando Pirates, Monaco, Cercle Brugge, Vitoria de Guimaraes, Westerlo
  • Date of Birth: 3rd September 2000
  • Awards: EFL Championship 2022-23, COSAFA U-20: 2017, Belgian First Division B: 2021-22

Lyle Foster is a South African player who plays in the Premier League for Burnley FC. He is of mixed race with African, Dutch, and Asian descent. He also featured in the Guardian’s top 60 most promising young players worldwide.

Lyle has played for teams such as Orlando Pirates, Monaco, Cercle Brugge, Vitoria de Guimares, and Westerlo before moving to the then EFL Championship side Burnley for €7 million.

His transfer fee would rise to €10 million after Burnley secured promotion to the English top flight.

2. Lebo Mothiba

 Lebo Mothiba playing
Lebo Mothiba. Image: X/iDiskiTimes
  • Position: Centre-forward
  • Current Team: Strasbourg
  • Previous Teams: Mamelodi SundownsValenciennes, Lille
  • Date of Birth: 28th January 1996
  • Awards: Coupe de la Ligue: 2018-19, Four Nations Tournament: 2018

Lebogang Mothiba plays for Strasbourg as a centre-forward. He began his football career at local Mamelodi Sundowns before joining Diambars Academy.

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During his stint at the South African football academy, Mothiba secured a transfer to Europe.

In 2014, he joined the under-19 Ligue 1 side Lille FC but was later sent on loan to Valenciennes in search of game time.

However, with the deal failing to materialize, Mothiba was sold to Strasbourg by Lille on deadline day, and he spent three seasons with the club.

Mothiba plays for Troyes on loan. He has represented Bafana Bafana in the 2016 Summer Olympics and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on the international stage.

3. Thembinkosi Nyoso Lorch

Thembinkosi Nyoso Lorch smiling
Thembinkosi Nyoso Lorch. Image: X/NsikayesizweZN
  • Position: Attacking-midfielder
  • Current Team: Orlando Pirates
  • Previous Teams: Chippa United, Cape Town All Stars, Maluti FET College
  • Date of Birth: 22nd July 1993
  • Awards: South African Player of the Season

Beginning his footballing career at Katlehong Young Stars, Thembinkosi Nyoso is an attacking midfielder who plays for Orlando Pirates in the South African Premier League.

He joined Orlando Pirates after Tshbalala recruited him but has been loaned out to Chippa United and Cape Town All Stars several times.

The South African national has won the Carling Black Label Cup 2019, the Nedbank Cup, and three MTN 8 titles with the Orlando Pirates.

He has also won the South African Player of the Season and Player of the Season in 2019.

4. Thembe Zwane

Thembe Zwane takes a picture besides a car
Thembe Zwane. Image: Instagram/mshishi18
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder
  • Current Team:  Mamelodi Sundowns
  • Date of Birth: 3rd August 1989
  • Awards: PFA Player of the Year, PSL Player’s Player of the Season

Themba Zwane is one of the best male South African soccer players and is an attacking midfielder for Mamelodi Sundowns in the Premier Soccer League.

Themba briefly went on loan to Mpumalanga Black Aces before he returned to Sundowns to retain his place in the first team.

He has represented South Africa internationally and has been touted as one of his generation’s best South African soccer players, scooping awards such as the PFA Player of the Year.

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Zwane earns a decent salary, making him one of the top-earning footballers at Mamelodi Sundowns.

5. Maliele Vincent Pule

Maliele Vincent Pule palying
Maliele Vincent Pule. Image: X/davidmasindi
  • Position: Forward 
  • Current Team: Orlando Pirates
  • Previous Teams: Bidvest Wits, African Warriors
  • Date of Birth: 10th March 1992

Born in the dusty streets of QwaQwa Free State, Vincent Pule started his football career in Africa Warriors.

After two seasons, he moved to Bidvest Wits, where he emerged as a free-kick specialist. He currently plays for Orlando Pirates, one of the best football clubs in Africa, in the Premier Soccer League.

6. Rivaldo Roberto Genino Coetzee

Rivaldo Roberto Genino Coetzee smiling
Rivaldo Roberto Genino Coetzee. Image: X/__happybarbz
  • Position: Defender
  • Current Team: Mamelodi Sundowns
  • Previous Teams: Ajax Cape Town
  • Date of Birth: 16th October 1996
  • Awards: MTN 8, South African Premier Division, Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout

Rivaldo Coetzee is a Mamelodi Sundowns and South African national team defender. He started his football career at Ajax Cape Town before switching to Mamelodi.

He has represented Bafana Bafana in the 2015 Senior Men’s Africa Cup of Nations and the U-23 Cup of Nations on the international stage.

7. Lars Veldwijk

Lars Veldwijk poses holding a jersey
Lars Veldwijk. Image: X/FARPostZA
  • Position: striker/forward
  • Current Team: Free Agent
  • Previous Teams: Excelsior, Nottingham Forest, KV Kortrijk
  • Date of Birth: 21st August 1991

Lars Veldwijk is a Bafana Bafana striker currently a free agent after his tenure with Eerste Divisie side Excelsior elapsed. He has five caps for the South African national side and featured in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

While playing for Suwon FC, the South African footballer was arrested and accused of drunk driving in Seoul. His blood alcohol concentration was 0.08 per cent, which caused him to be suspended from the Korea Professional Football League.

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Lars has also played for clubs including Nottingham Forest, PEC Zwolle, KV Kortrijk, Aalesund, FC Groningen, Sparta Rotterdam, and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

8. Mosa Lebusa

Mosa Lebusa with his tongue out
Mosa Lebusa. Image: X/NeoMolefe_SA
  • Position: Defender
  • Current Team: Mamelodi Sundowns
  • Date of Birth: 10th October 1992

Mosa Lebusa is one of the best South African soccer players. He plays centre-back or left-back for Mamelodi Sundowns.

Aside from captaining, Mosa Lebusa has also been capped six times by the Bafana Bafana.

9. Fortune Makaringe

Fortune Makaringe running
Fortune Makaringe. Image: X/Samkeh_Bayeni
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Current Team: Orlando Pirates
  • Previous Teams: Moroka SwallowsMaritzburg United
  • Date of Birth: 3rd June 1993

Fortune Makaringe is a South African midfielder who plays for Orlando Pirates and represents the Bafana Bafana on the global stage.

The midfielder started his career with the Moroka Swallows youth team before proceeding to Maritzburg United.

10. Khuliso Johnson Mudau

Khuliso Johnson Mudau
Khuliso Johnson Mudau. Image: X/UrbanPantsula1
  • Position: Defender
  • Current Team: Mamelodi Sundowns
  • Previous Teams: JDR Stars, Magesi, Black Leopards
  • Date of Birth: 26th April 1995

Born in Messina, Limpopo, Khuliso Mudau started his career by playing for the outfits JDR Stars, Magesi, and Black Leopards. He is a right-back for South African Premier Division side Mamelodi Sundowns.

A versatile player, Khuliso has been deployed as a centre-back for his South African side, Sundowns.

11. Itumeleng Issac Khune

Itumeleng Issac Khune looking at the sky
Itumeleng Issac Khune. Image: X/tsholwana32
  • Position: Goal Keeper
  • Current Team: Kaizer Chiefs
  • Date of Birth: 20th June 1987
  • Awards: Premier Soccer League, 2 Nedbank Cup, 3 SAA Supa 8 Cup

Itumeleng Khune is one of the best South African soccer players. He plays for the PSL side, Kaizer Cheifs, as a goalkeeper.

He started his career as a Kaizer Chiefs youth team striker before chest pains had him demoted to a ball boy. However, he would soon find himself back on the first team as a goalkeeper, thanks to coach Terror Sephora.

Khune has been capped by the Bafana Bafana 75 times and has captained the side in the Olympics.

He is renowned for his shot-stopping prowess, such as when he saved David Villa’s penalty in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup against Spain.

The world has yet to see another remarkable performance from the rainbow nation, such as the scenes witnessed in 1996, and only time will tell if we are to see another golden generation of South Africa’s best soccer players.

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