Thulani Serero. Picture: THE TIMES
Thulani Serero. Picture: THE TIMES

Thulani Serero is shaping up as the key man this season at his new Dutch club, Vitesse Arnhem, which can only be good for national team coach Stuart Baxter during the remaining World Cup qualifiers in 2017.

A fit and firing Serero would be a true national asset‚ and after a 2016-17 campaign in which he was not even registered by former club Ajax Amsterdam‚ the wheel is turning in his favour.

He has joined a club in which he will not just play‚ but be the key link in the midfield between the defence and attack‚ given the responsibility that comes with the playmaking role.

"Serero is a controlling player and good in possession. He has the potential to make the game‚" Vitesse coach Henk Fraser told Dutch radio and TV station Omroep Gelderland.

Serero says he is looking forward to the challenge after so long on the sidelines.

"I want to be on the ball‚" he said. "I also see myself as a leader. I understand Fraser wants the play to go through me and I feel comfortable with that. But in the end‚ we have to play football as a team and win as a team."

Serero also suggested the difference between the level at Ajax and Vitesse was not that great and both teams had a similar mind-set‚ to play attacking football.

"Both clubs want to play attacking football and the difference really is not as big as people think. It is mainly about the mentality of players."

I ... see myself as a leader ... but in the end‚ we have to play football as a team and win as a team.

Serero will be a key man for Vitesse when they play in the Uefa Europa League this season‚ having starred for Ajax in the Champions League‚ including scoring against Barcelona.

Vitesse will enter at the group stage and Serero feels they should not be overawed by whatever teams they are drawn to meet.

"You do not necessarily need European experience to survive in Europe. It’s about believing… believing you can win. If you step on the field‚ everyone has the same faith‚ not thinking‚ ‘Oh no‚ this is a great team‚ it’s difficult to win here’. If we all have faith‚ anything is possible."

Serero also has some lofty goals for the team in the coming campaign‚ including bettering last season’s fifth-place finish in the Eredivisie.

"We should finish higher in the league than last year. I also want to survive the group stages [of the Europa League]‚ win the [preseason] Johan Cruyff Shield again [against league champions Feyenoord] and win the Dutch Cup. Each one is a goal. And yes‚ they can be reached with Vitesse."


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