Crunch time for SA footballers in Europe

04 May 2018 - 10:58 By Nick Said
Lille's South African striker Lebo Mothiba (R) scores a goal during the French L1 football match against Bordeaux, on April 7, 2018 at the Matmut stadium in Bordeaux southwestern France.
Lille's South African striker Lebo Mothiba (R) scores a goal during the French L1 football match against Bordeaux, on April 7, 2018 at the Matmut stadium in Bordeaux southwestern France.
Image: MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP

It will be a big weekend for a number of South African players abroad as they look to seal promotion playoff places‚ qualify for European club competition next season or avoid the dreaded relegation.

As the seasons wind down across Europe‚ slightly earlier than usual due to the Fifa World Cup‚ it is crunch time for a number of the country’s star names.

Young Bafana Bafana striker Lebo Mothiba faces a massive clash with his French Ligue 1 side Lille as they travel to Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille are currently in the automatic relegation position‚ but victory would see them leap-frog Toulouse and into safety with two matches in the season to be played.

Keagan Dolly’s Montpellier need victory over Nantes to keep their slim hopes of Uefa Europa League qualification alive‚ the same scenario for Lebogang Phiri’s Guingamp as they travel to Dijon.

Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu will face a big test on Friday night when his Amiens side host champions Paris St Germain. Zungu is destined for a mid-table finish.

Tom Barkhuizen‚ an English-born winger who is the latest target for Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter to draft into the national team‚ still has hopes of making the English Championship playoffs for promotion to the Premier League.

His Preston North End side must beat relegation-threatened Burton Albion on Sunday and hope that the side above them‚ Derby County‚ lose at home to another side threatened with the drop‚ Barnsley.

Kamohelo Mokotjo’s Brentford have narrowly missed out on the playoffs‚ but could finish seventh with a win over Hull City.

In the division below‚ fullback Kgosi Ntlhe’s Rochdale United need at least a draw with Charlton Athletic to move out of the relegation zone in League One.

Even a win may not be enough if Oldham Athletic beat struggling Northampton Town.

New Bafana recruit Joel Untersee has already helped Empoli‚ where he is on loan from Juventus‚ to promotion from the Italian Serie B to Serie A.

Thulani Serero will close his regular season with Vitesse in the Dutch Eredivisie at Willem II‚ with the club already having confirmed a place in the Europa League playoffs.


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