SA Players Abroad: Thibang Phete & Sphephelo Sithole avoid relegation with Belenenses


There is cause for celebration for the South African duo of Thibang Phete and Sphephelo Sithole, whose status in the Portuguese top flight with Belenenses was secured on Monday evening.

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After snapping a seven-match winless streak with victory over Gil Vicente on Sunday, Belenenses' safety was confirmed after rivals Portimonense suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Pacos de Ferreira on Monday.

Desportivo Aves and Vitoria Setubal, who currently occupy the bottom two places in the league, both have a game in hand, but Monday's result means that the lowest Belenenses can finish this season is in 16th position, one place clear of the drop zone. 

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Kimberley-born Phete (pictured) has played a starring role in the club's bid to maintain their top-flight status this season since he arrived in January, making 14 league appearances and winning no fewer than three Man of the Match awards.

The 26-year-old, who is on loan from fellow Primeira Liga side Famalicao, has predominantly been deployed as a ball-playing defender on the right side of a three-man defence by manager Pedro Ribeiro, although he has most recently been used in midfield.

Scroll through the gallery below to see South Africa's most valuable U21 players abroad

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Phete's countryman Sithole has played a smaller role in helping the club avoid the drop after only making his senior debut last week Wednesday, but the 21-year-old is believed to be held in high regard and could feature again in the final match of the campaign. 

That fixture takes place on Sunday, 26 July, when Belenenses take on Vitoria Setubal away from home in the season's finale.