Europe exports to shine
THE big football leagues in Europe kick off this weekend and The Times brings you a guide on South African players who will be featuring in them.
Daylon Claasen (Lierse, Belgium)
Claasen is one of the best midfielders in Belgium, and would have moved to a bigger European league in this transfer window had he not been struck down by a knee injury.
Claasen's time will come; he is too good for a modest side such as Lierse.
Lance Davids (Lierse, Belgium)
Davids is eager to leave Lierse after falling out of favour with his coach but is battling to find a taker.
Able to play in either defence or midfield, his plans for moves to the US and South Africa have broken down.
He has not been used as a player this season by Lierse.
Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace, England)
Dikgacoi is likely to be a regular at English Championship club Crystal Palace though possibly in an unfamiliar wide role in midfield.
He is entering his third season for the club and, injuries aside, has been a key figure for them and a bit of a cult hero for the fans.
Darren Keet (KV Kortrijk, Belgium)
Keet has been handed the No1 jersey at Kortrijk after doing his apprenticeship in his first campaign in Belgium last year. He will hope his performances catch the eye of national team coach Gordon Igesund, having been called into a number of Bafana Bafana squads in recent years without getting a run.
Bongani Khumalo (PAOK, Greece, loan)
Khumalo is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur and will hope he can finally make a breakthrough in Europe after almost two years of frustration because of injury and non-selection. He has started well with his new club, helping it through the rounds of the Europa League ahead of the Greek season.
May Mahlangu (Helsingborg, Sweden)
Until recently, Mahlangu seemed to have gone off the boil after the highs of being named Swedish League Player of the Year in 2011 and helping his side to the league and cup double.
But he now looks as if he is back to being his dominant self. The question is whether he will stay at the club beyond the close of the transfer window later this month, or move to a bigger European league.
Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium)
Ngcongca recently expressed the desire to return to the PSL to be close to his family but, as one of the top defenders in Belgium, there is little chance of that. He has been converted into centre-back from right back this season and has fitted in well. He dreams of playing in Spain or England.
Steven Pienaar (Everton, England)
South Africa's most experienced current export has returned to his beloved Everton for a fourth spell with The Toffees and will once again be their key creative influence in midfield. His aim will be to help the club qualify for Europe next season.
Tokelo Rantie (Malmo, Sweden)
Rantie completed a 17-month loan to the Swedish team this week, ending the hopes of the Orlando Pirates faithful that he would return to the club for this season.
On loan at Bucs, Rantie played a big role towards the end of the last campaign, helping the team to league success, but always had his heart on a return to Europe.
Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands)
After a disappointing first 12 months in Amsterdam because of injury and subsequent weight gain, Serero has had a fine pre-season and began the 2012-2013 campaign as a starter.
That is likely to remain the case if he can stay injury-free, which he says is more likely, now that his body has acclimatised to the punishing physical demands of the European game.
Andrew Surman (Norwich City, England)
Though Surman has turned down opportunities to represent Bafana, the closer the 2014 World Cup gets, the more likely it is that he will change his mind if his country calls. The left-winger was a star for Norwich City in the Premiership last season. He brings creativity and goals to their midfield.