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Mixed fortunes for South African players in Europe

22 July 2016 - 14:37 By Nick Said

It was a mixed night for South Africans competing in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday with only two scraping through to the third qualifying round on a night of shocks across the continent.

Lebogang Phiri started as his Danish side Brondby needed penalties to overcome Scottish second-tier side Hibernian following a surprise 1-0 home loss in the second leg. That took the tie to extra-time‚ with Brondby eventually triumphing 5-4 in the shoot-out.It was a close call in a tie that the Danes were expected to breeze through.They have now set up a third qualifying round tie with German side Hertha Berlin. The Bundesliga outfit gained their place in the competition after finishing seventh in the league in the last campaign.Hertha’s most recognisable name is Ivory Coast and former Chelsea international Salomon Kalou.Tefu Mashamaite was an unused substitute for Swedish side Hacken as they crashed out of the competition following a 1-0 loss to Irish side Cork City.It is a major surprise for the Swedish Cup champions and a blow for the ex-Kaizer Chiefs man‚ who would have relished pitting his skills against some top names from the rest of Europe.Granwald Scott came on for the final 20 minutes but could not steer his Slovakian side Slovan Bratislava to victory as they were surprise 3-0 losers at Latvian outfit Jelgava.Slovan‚ who finished runners-up in Slovakia last season‚ lost by the same scoreline on aggregate having been held 0-0 in the home leg. Anele Ngcongca’s Genk lost 2-1 to Montenegrin side Buducnost but still advanced 3-2 on aggregate‚ though the Bafana Bafana right-back remains frozen out of the first team plans at the club by coach Peter Maes.Genk now face Cork City in the next round.Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night came in Scotland where Hearts‚ who had a South African connection in the form of defender Callum Paterson‚ were knocked out of the competition by the fourth-best team from the tiny island of Malta‚ Birkirkara.Hearts lost the match and the tie 2-1 for one the darkest days in the club’s history.- TMG Digital..

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