South Africa could at least have two representatives in this year’s edition of the Uefa Champions League.
The majority of SA football fans were excited at the prospect of seeing Rivaldo Coetzee sharing the pitch with some of Europe’s best players when Ajax Cape Town announced that he would be departing for Scottish giants, Celtic, but not many would have predicted that there would be another South African competing at the highest level.
On Wednesday evening, European football had an unlikely hero as South Africa international Dino Ndlovu, cast his name into Azerbaijani football folklore with a goal which booked Qarabag Futbol Klubu a place in the Champions League group stages.
Despite the Horsemen’s eventual 2-1 defeat against FC Copenhagen, the 27-year-old’s strike saw the Azerbaijani’s advance on away goal rule, and their qualification was celebrated throughout the night as it was not only a first for the Baku-based outfit but a first for Azerbaijan football as a whole.
Nevertheless, while the dust is yet to settle on Qarabag’s amazing feat, all eyes will now be on the draw for the group stages which is set to take place on Thursday evening.
Qarabag are in Pot 4, where they are joined by teams such as Celtic, Feyenoord, Lisbon giants Sporting CP, Germany’s RB Leipzig among other teams.
This would mean that the prospect of seeing Ndlovu against the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Napoli is a real possibility.
Also, being in Pot 4 makes drawing an English Premier League side all the more likely, which should be an exciting prospect for the South African striker as he looks to win his place back in the national team.