Lebogang Mothiba could be Bafana Bafana’s trump card in Libya showdown

21 March 2019 - 10:51 By Marc Strydom
Lebo Mothiba of South Africa during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match between South Africa and Seychelles at FNB Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Lebo Mothiba of South Africa during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match between South Africa and Seychelles at FNB Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Libya are sure to have done their research on him‚ but that does not mean that in the flesh they will necessarily be able to contend with Bafana Bafana’s hottest young striking property Lebogang Mothiba in Sfax on Sunday.

Bafana need a draw from the Group E Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Tunisia‚ and Libya need a win‚ to reach Egypt 2019 in June and July.

South Africa could find themselves up against it in the coastal city of Sfax‚ where the match will be played because of the unstable security situation in Libya.

Libya were able to penetrate Bafana’s defence on a few occasions with a very effective counterattack in the corresponding fixture in Durban in September‚ a 0-0 draw.

However‚ as SA coach Stuart Baxter has pointed out‚ Strasbourg striker Mothiba missed that game through injury‚ and could be the difference needed when Bafana will need a step up in performance for the away fixture.

“I know that Libya are preparing very hard for us. Because this game we are going to play is going to decide which team goes to the Afcon‚” Mothiba said in Tunisian capital Tunis‚ where Bafana are camping before a 270-kilometre bus ride to Sfax on Thursday.

“But the first game I wasn’t here — I didn’t play against them. So this is my first time I’m going to play against Libya.

“So for us‚ we must just keep focus‚ and keep working hard at training‚ and listen to the coach’s instructions and do our best.”

South Africa trained in Tunis as they could not find a suitable facility in Sfax.

They will train at the 25‚000-seater Stade Taïeb Mhiri match venue on Friday and Saturday.

Libya will look to their dangerous‚ pacey centre-forward Anis Saltou‚ one of four players on a third-highest four goals in the qualifiers‚ to be their answer to Mothiba threatening Bafana’s goal.

Mothiba said the South Africans should concentrate on their own game rather than be too concerned over Libya’s potential danger men.

“We mustn’t think like that. We just need to focus on our work‚” he said.

“We mustn’t think about who’s dangerous. We just need to do what we do best and go there and give everything.”

Second-placed South Africa are on nine points in Group E‚ and second-placed Libya seven points.

Nigeria have qualified with 10 points.

Seychelles are eliminated in last place on one point.

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