SA stars gear up for big round of matches in Uefa Europa League

Anele Ngcongca can seal path to knockout rounds, rest face elimination

It could be a decisive round of matches for South Africans competing in the Uefa Europa League on Thursday with qualification for the knockout rounds hanging in the balance.

The penultimate round of group games could decide their fate with all facing tough challenges.
Bafana right-back Anele Ngcongca has recovered from illness to take his place in the Genk side for their crucial Uefa Europa League clash with Hungarian team Videoton.

Ngcongca missed the weekend 3-1 loss to bottom side Cercle Brugge in the Belgian league after returning from national team duty in South Africa feeling under the weather.

Genk currently head Group I, two points ahead of second-placed Videoton, and a victory would ensure their passage through to the knockout stages of the competition. A draw might be enough as well if Swiss side Basel lose at home to pool whipping boys Sporting Lisbon.

If fit, Ngcongca is expected to return at centre-back for the fixture, having also played at right-back and as a holding midfielder this season.

May Mahlangu’s Helsingborg need a big win at home to Spanish La Liga side Levante to have any chance of making the next round.

The Swedes trail Levante by six points with two games left to play, but must also make up a six-goal swing to overhaul their rivals. Victory would leave them hoping other results go their way, while they will still have to win at FC Twente on December 6.

South African-born Dani Amos is in a similar situation with his Israeli side Ironi Kiryat Shmona, who must win their final two matches, starting with a home game against Spanish La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao.

They would then need to go and win at runaway pool leaders Lyon and hope other results go their way.

And finally, Sergio Marakis could be in contention for Portuguese Maritimo as they travel to English Premiership side Newcastle United. Marakis has yet to feature for the team this season, but is in their registered squad for the Uefa Europa League.