While the fortunes of Tottenham Hotspur are booming amid the club’s finest hour since the inception of England’s Premier League, the future of 29-year-old Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar with the North London combination has plunged into the doldrums.
Pienaar has not played a single Premier League game for Spurs this season as the club has gone from strength to strength enjoying an unbeaten run of 11 matches, of which the last six have ended in victory.
In the process, Spurs have forged into their most promising position yet to challenge for the Premier League title, currently lying in third position on the log, and facing the inviting prospect of leap-frogging Manchester United into second place should they win their game in-hand, thereby edging to within four points of log leaders Manchester City.
It is a vibrant success story in which Pienaar has played no part, having been effectively relegated to the club’s reserve line-up, making only two first-team appearances in the subsidiary Europa League.
In line with manager Harry Redknapp’s selection policy, Pienaar played for the second-string Spurs in their deflating 1-0 Europa Cup defeat against Greek club Paok last week.
On Saturday, when Spurs continued on their triumphant Premier League march with a 3-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers, Pienaar was on the substitutes’ bench but did not play any part in the proceedings on the pitch.
Pienaar’s dilemma, it would seem, began soon after his transfer from Everton early in the year when he suffered a troublesome, recurring groin injury.
While his appearance for Bafana Bafana in the drawn Nelson Mandela Challenge game against Côte d’Ivoire recently indicated he was over the injury, Pienaar has made no progress moving up in Spurs’ pecking order.
Spurs are presently endowed with a plethora of outstanding midfielders of the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Scott Parker, Aaron Lennon, Rafael van der Vaart and Sandro, and Pienaar’s prospect of displacing any of them looks as difficult as penetrating the walls of Fort Knox.
Pienaar’s eclipse at Spurs could rub off on the national team as Bafana attempt to revive their fortunes following the nightmare of failing to qualify for the forthcoming Africa Nations Cup tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane deprived long-time captain Aaron Mokoena of the captaincy when his fortunes deteriorated in English soccer and Pienaar could be confronted with a similar situation as he now attempts to resurrect his career. — Sapa