Why does South Africa's PSL feature so many international goalkeepers?

Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi couldn't get near Riyad Mahrez's free-kick that was decisive in Algeria's Africa Cup of Nations semifinal victory. JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa's Premier Soccer League features an international goalkeeper on most of the big teams' squad lists, which is good news for fans of excellent shot stopping, but what does it mean for the country's own goalkeeping development?

Most notably, Kaizer Chiefs' Daniel Akpeyi recently won the Nigerian Goalkeeper of the Year award, but he is only one of many top quality international 'keepers across the country.

Ghana international Richard Ofori (Maritzburg United), 2016 and 2018 CAF Team of the Year goalkeeper Denis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns), and Guinea-Bissau shot-stopper Jonas Mendes (Black Leopards) are notable top African goalkeepers in the league.

Former France youth international Joris Delle is cutting his teeth at Orlando Pirates, while former Netherlands U19 goalkeepers Peter Leeuwenburgh (Cape Town City) and Boy de Jong (Stellenbosch) are both plying their trade in the Western Cape.

De Jong was brought to South Africa from Anderlecht, where he struggled for playing time, ahead of the 2019-20 season.

He tells ESPN that he was swayed by Stellies' ambition, whereas they saw in him a goalkeeper with qualities they would seldom find in their country.

"I think we [goalkeepers from abroad] are a little different from the rest in South Africa," de Jong says.

"We are used to playing with our feet. We are used to playing out the back. We can have command.

"Here, goalkeepers are very athletic. They are very strong, big guys -- strong on the line -- but they don't communicate that well at the back and they can't play that well with their feet.

"It was the ambition from Stellenbosch to make a development in a couple of months to try to play nice football. It's still difficult, because not all the guys are used to it. It needs time."

De Jong is locked in battle for the number one spot at Stellenbosch with Lee Langeveldt. The 33-year-old local goalkeeper has performed well when called upon this season, and has done enough to keep his spot much of the time.

Former Feyenoord youngster De Jong feels that he has the edge over Langeveldt, though, in terms of playing out from the back. He is trying to set an example to follow, not only for his competitor for the number one berth, but also for younger goalkeepers at the club.

"They have to look at what I do and they can copy it," says de Jong. "I was raised in the academy, so from a very young age, I knew what to do tactically and technically -- formations, setup, passing drills.

"In South Africa, that's a little bit of an issue [youth development]," the 25-year-old says. "In Europe, if you're 21 or 22, you're a little bit old. Here, you're an MDC player who is coming up."

Contradicting De Jong's opinion are former champions SuperSport United. Their goalkeeper coach, Andre Arendse, works closely with the club's academy and is adamant there are youngsters under his wing who should go on to play in Europe.

Arendse himself was overseas at Fulham (1997-2000) and Oxford United (2000-01) during his playing career. The South African national team (Bafana Bafana) goalkeeper coach admits to being unimpressed by the shortage of local goalkeepers currently playing in Europe's top leagues.

"Back in my generation, there was not a lot of money in the local leagues. The desire to leave South Africa and ply your trade abroad was much greater," Arendse tells ESPN.

"There's so much money that's come into the game in South African football [now]. There's more of a reluctance to go away from home, to leave family and go into a foreign country.

"It's a shame, because we need these young players to have the experience of playing against top players in Europe and other parts of the world. They bring that experience back to our national team."

Arendse nevertheless has a positive view of the influx of international goalkeepers moving to the Premier Soccer League.

"The quality of foreign goalkeeping that we have is of a high enough standard [among those] who are playing in the PSL," he says.

"What that says to me is that aspiring young local goalkeepers will have to work their socks off to get those opportunities in the PSL."

A strong mentality is a quality which Arendse seeks to instil into every goalkeeper he works with. He feels it is paying dividends, both with the youngsters he is bringing through at SuperSport, and for national team number one, Ronwen Williams.

Limited opportunities for local goalkeepers due to a strong pool of international talent may build character, but the question remains: Why are so many quality foreign goalkeepers attracted to South Africa?

Former Bafana international Hans Vonk is the prime example of a once-overseas goalkeeper who chose the PSL over a lucrative life abroad.

Born in South Africa but raised in Europe, he played in the Netherlands for the likes of RKC Waalwijk, Heerenveen and AFC Ajax before joining Ajax Cape Town in 2006. He now serves as the Cape club's head of football.

"When I came to Ajax Cape Town, I remember I was in the car driving... Guus Hiddink [then PSV head coach] called me and said: 'I'm going to bring in a Brazilian goalkeeper. I think he needs time to adjust to Eindhoven. I want you to be the goalkeeper for the first six months, maybe the whole year.'

"It was good money, but I said: 'Sorry, I think I'll go to Cape Town.' That was not for even half of what PSV was willing to pay for me."

One could be forgiven for thinking that Vonk more than anyone would know why South Africa's Premier Division is brimming with goalkeeping talent from abroad. However, even he struggles to understand why so many top talents choose it.

"My decision was [motivated by] lifestyle. Other goalkeepers, I can't say... I think financial reasons. For goalkeepers from Ghana and Nigeria, [the PSL] is a big step forward."

Arendse adds that due to limited spots available for goalkeepers in Europe, it is difficult for even Africa's best to find suitable moves to clubs there -- leading to them choosing South African sides instead.

"It's easier for your top strikers in African football to go to Europe, which is always their first choice," Arendse says.

"It's more difficult for goalkeepers to get into that position. It's not like you can substitute a goalkeeper every five minutes in a game, whereas you can do that with a striker."

"When you look at what European teams are paying for top African strikers, the PSL cannot afford that... To a [small] extent, they can afford to compete for top African goalkeepers."

It appears South African goalkeepers have no choice but to adapt and grow from the challenges posed to them by their foreign counterparts. Whether or not the next generation can rise to the challenge remains to be seen.