After progressing through the group stage, Serero and Ngcongca will find out who they will face in the Last 32 of the Europa League knockout stageThere will be a few interested South African spectators when the draw is made for the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League competition tomorrow.
Thulani Serero’s Ajax Amsterdam and Anele Ngcongca’s Genk are in the Last 32 of the Europa League and will be hoping to avoid the big-guns that litter the draw.
The remaining 32 sides consist of 16 seeded and unseeded clubs, with these drawn against one another over two-legged ties that will be played on February 14 and 21 next year. Both Ngcongca and Serero will hope to have enjoyed a successful 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, finishing just four days earlier.
Genk are one of the seeded sides after topping their pool, but the way the tournament has panned out this season, they might have been better off finishing second with so many top clubs in the unseeded group.
Awaiting them as possible opponents are Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur, defending champions Atletico Madrid, Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen and Serero’s Ajax side.
Only Chelsea and Lazio look like real tough opponents among the seeded teams, with all others very beatable.
Whatever the outcome of the draw, the latter stages of the competition will provide valuable experience to both these players, though Ngcongca is now something of a veteran of European club football having played in the Champions League or Europa League for the last four years.
Serero’s Ajax reached this stage after finishing third in their Champions League group, which saw them drop down to Europe’s secondary competition.
Liverpool, Viktoria Plzen, Fenerbahce, Bordeaux, Steaua Bucharest, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, KRC Genk, Rubin Kazan, Lyon, Lazio, Metalist Kharkiv, Hannover 96, Chelsea, Cluj, Olympiacos, Benfica.
Anji Makhachkala, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Newcastle United, Stuttgart, Napoli, FC Basel, Inter Milan, AC Sparta Praha, Tottenham Hotspur, Bayer Leverkusen, Levante, Dynamo Kyiv, Zenit St Petersburg, Ajax, BATE Borisov.