SA stars take on the best in Europe
THULANI Serero has returned to the Ajax squad for their Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund in Germany tonight.
The Bafana Bafana playmaker missed the weekend's Dutch League victory over Waalwijk through suspension, perhaps a blessing in disguise given his exploits with Bafana in the preceding 10 days.
He will now be well-rested for the trip to the Bundesliga champions and will hope to regain his place in the Ajax side, having scored three goals in his past two games for them.
Serero made his Champions League debut last season, making cameo appearances against both Real Madrid and Manchester United. He goes into this game a much leaner, fitter and more experienced player, and says it is a dream to play against Europe's best.
"Everybody wants to play in the Champions League. I think that is what we dream about as South African players," Serero says.
"I want to test myself against the best in the world and this is the place for me to do it.
"When I was playing for Ajax Cape Town, I used to watch the Champions League on television and dream of being there one day. So for me it is in some ways strange to be playing in the competition, but also very exciting.
"To play against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu [last season], it is difficult to describe. I was excited, nervous, but then once I got on the pitch, it was just like another game and I concentrated on what the coach had told me to do."
Aside from Dortmund, Ajax have been placed in the same pool as Real Madrid once again, as well as English Premiership champions Manchester City.
It will be a wonderful opportunity for the 22-year-old to prove that he can make the step up from the Dutch League against what are truly Europe's elite clubs.
Meanwhile, May Mahlangu will play for Helsingborgs as they begin their Europa League group stages campaign with an away trip to Spanish La Liga side Levante on Thursday.