SA exports gear up for new season
IT SEEMS like the 2011-12 season has only just been completed, but already the start of the next campaign is looming large for many of South Africa's overseas exports.
National Under-23 keeper Darren Keet will hope to be in goal when his Belgian side Kortrijk open their 2012-13 season against league champions Anderlecht on July 28.
It is a tough beginning for Keet, who will be hoping for more than the 16 starts he made in the last campaign.
Question marks hang over the future of Anele Ngcongca and Daylon Claasen at Genk and Lierse respectively.
But if they are still with their current employers then Ngcongca will begin his season on July 29 against Cercle Brugge, and Claasen on the same day against Gent.
Ayanda Patosi is another player looking for a big season and his Lokeren team are away at Germinal Beerschot on July 28. Steven Pienaar and Bongani Khumalo are unsure whether they will still be with Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premiership next season, but if they are, they begin their season on August 18 at Pienaar's boyhood idols Newcastle United.
If he does win a move to Everton, an even bigger challenge awaits as the Toffees face Manchester United at home on the same day.
There has been an outcry from English clubs over the scheduling of the season, with a Fifa match day set for August 15, just three days before the new campaign gets under way.
Kgosi Ntlhe (Peterborough United), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace) and hopefully Davide Somma (Leeds United) get their English Championship seasons off the mark on the same weekend.
Thulani Serero will begin his season with Ajax Amsterdam at AZ Alkmaar on August 12. Kamohelo Mokotjo and his Feyenoord side are at Utrecht on the same day, though before that they have a two-legged Uefa Champions League third round tie starting on July 31.
Dino Ndlovu and his Israeli side Bnei Yehuda will start their season with a Uefa Europa League second round tie on July 19.
Of the other big European leagues, no fixtures have been released for the Spanish La Liga, though it will start on August 18, while the Italian Serie A will start a week later on August 25.
The German Bundesliga season will get under way on August 24, though for the first time since the early 1990s, at this stage there are no SA players in the top two divisions in that country.