‘Confident’ Mothiba in battle mode for South Africa

Lebo Mothiba daringly likened South Africa’s training sessions to those of Barcelona, but the striker believes his battling style blended with the team’s possession-based approach could deliver success at the Africa Cup of Nations.

 Bafana Bafana, are back in the continent’s flagship tournament after missing out in 2017, but face a difficult assignment in Egypt starting Monday having been drawn alongside 2015 champions Côte d’Ivoire and a strong Morocco side coached by two-time Cup of Nations winner Herve Renard, as well as Namibia in Group D.

“It’s going to be difficult but when you see the team play, the way it’s able to keep the ball, it’s like Spanish football. I’m really confident,” Mothiba, 23, told AFP.

“At training, we play like Barcelona,” the Strasbourg forward said, albeit acknowledging his style is somewhat less refined. “Me, I’m there to fight with the defenders.”

After arriving in France as a teenager in 2014 with Lille from the Johannesburg branch of the Diambars academy, Mothiba moved to Strasbourg last August, winning the League Cup in a debut season that saw him score nine times. He was also on target on the opening weekend for Lille before departing for Strasbourg on a four-year deal.

Since his international debut in March 2018, Mothiba has bagged four goals in seven outings and helped South Africa finish second in their qualifying group behind Nigeria, going through the campaign undefeated.

‘Natural striker’

His fast international start has led him to being earmarked as someone who could break Benni McCarthy’s long-standing record of 31 goals for South Africa.

“When I selected him for the first time I did not know whether to select him or adopt him,” South Africa coach Stuart Baxter told AFP during a trip to Strasbourg last December.

“He’s a sociable person, always positive and in South Africa we do not have anyone of his profile. He is a natural striker and we hope he will have a long international career.”

“We have lots of fast and technical players. I’m there to fight with the defenders, keep the ball and bring my team-mates into play. I bring something new,” added Mothiba, who boasts a solid record of 15 goals scored in 49 Ligue 1 appearances, a number of them off the bench.

He racked up seven goals by November this season but slowed after the winter break.

“You mustn’t forget he’s only 23 and doesn’t have loads of Ligue 1 experience. He scored less but he was a super-sub and created chances. He’s a boy capable of scoring double-digit goals in a season,” said Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey.

Mothiba could well move on from Strasbourg this summer if he excels in Egypt, with the player reportedly drawing interest from clubs in the English Premier League.

For now Mothiba, who played with South Africa’s under-23 team at the Rio Olympics, is gearing up for his first major senior tournament with Bafana Bafana, winners of the Cup of Nations for the only time in 1996, on home soil and just days after Mothiba was born.

© Agence France-Presse

Agency
External source
Advertisting

Workers fight job-creation ‘mess’

Former Ekurhuleni workers argued in court that a programme promising to equip them with skills simply acted as a labour broker for the municipality

Court dissolves local municipality

Landmark judgment paves the way for South Africans to use legal system to hold councils responsible

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.