Bafana’s Lebo is hungry for goals

Red-hot France-based sniper may be answer to SA’s goalscoring woes

Bafana Bafana striker Lebo Mothiba says he has one ambition and that is to bang in the goals for the national team against Seychelles.
Bafana Bafana striker Lebo Mothiba says he has one ambition and that is to bang in the goals for the national team against Seychelles.

As the nation waits for Bafana Bafana to score goals against Seychelles in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, the team’s striker Lebogang Mothiba says he does not feel under pressure to perform miracles.

Bafana meet the islanders at FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon and a win may see them top Group E depending on the result between Nigeria and Libya, who are meeting on Friday in Kaduna.

The 22-year-old has shown real determination at training and even scored in the 1-0 win over SuperSport United played at Sunninghill, Johannesburg, on Thursday.

In the team’s hotel, though, Mothiba has cut a relaxed figure and even when we sat down for the interview to get his thoughts on the Seychelles clash, he appeared very much at ease despite the nation’s expectations.

“Now that I’m here, I want to give everything to help South Africa win,” said Mothiba, who missed the goalless draw against Libya last month because of a hamstring injury.

“You know, as a striker people will always praise you when you score goals and it’s a good thing, but they would expect more from you.

“And that most of the time put strikers under pressure and they start dropping. That’s why you have to keep your head down and focus on your own game. Don’t start doing things that you never did before because people expect you to do more, so I just focus on my game and play the way I know how to play, that’s why I keep scoring,” he said.

Mothiba has been in top form for his new French side Racing Strasbourg – he has four goals in six games and believes it's because he gets a lot of opportunities in the box and hopes his Bafana teammates will afford him the same supply against Seychelles.

“It’s good to be back with my [national] teammates and it’s nice to come back home to represent my country. For now I’m enjoying myself,” Mothiba added.

Mothiba previously played as a centre-back for Mamelodi Sundowns’ U11 youth team, but was switched to a striker when he moved to Kempton Park FC. He later played for Diambars academy before joining Lille in 2014. “You know I was at the Sundowns academy playing for their U11 team and I was a centre-back. I was a proper centre-back; aggressive like Sergio Ramos [of Real Madrid]. No, I’m joking,” said Mothiba. Meanwhile, forward Sibusiso Vilakazi is out of the game after rupturing his left tendon Achilles, Bafana Bafana doctor, Thulani Ngwenya confirmed on Thursday.

Vilakazi, who got injured against SuperSport, will also miss the return leg next week.