LEBO MOTHIBA of South Africa celebrates a goal with teammates during the Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria last year. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

DURBAN – Aaron 'Mbazo' Mokoena encountered numerous obstacles during his illustrious career but mental strength was always a key component in his accomplishments.

Mbazo, as he was affectionately known to his followers across the world, was not one of the adored footballers in the country despite his big achievements which saw him plying his trade in England for the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth.

His ability to work diligently was his major weapon and was the reason he made it big internationally. Mokoena believes that Bafana need the very same strong mentality that he applied when he was still a player when they lock horns against Libya

Bafana will square off against Libya on Sunday at 7pm in a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Tunisia.

“Focus and strong mentality will be the key for Bafana on Sunday,” Mokoena said “They need to be on a positive mode.

“The way you train is the way you will play. We need to be in the right frame of mind.

“We tend to relax against such countries. We failed to beat Libya at home and Seychelles away from home.

“We should have collected maximum points in those games. We have to produce the same performance and application that we showed when we beat Nigeria in the first game of these qualifiers,” Mokoena said.

Bafana are second in the group with nine points, and need one point to book a place in the Afcon in June in Egypt while a loss will see Libya to go through.

“We don’t have to panic. We must play to win. We don’t have to go there for a draw although it will be enough. Both teams are 'away' because the game will be played a neutral venue.

“It is going to be difficult away but we can do it if our mindset is right on the day,” he added.

Bafana have endured turbulent times recently against the minnows. They were defeated by Cape Verde home and away in the qualification for the last year’s World Cup in Russia. Bafana also succumbed to a defeat against Madagascar in the Cosafa Cup.

“I strongly believe in collective contributions,” Mokoena said. “We must do it as a team. Against Nigeria, we defended well and scored goals when we had chances. That’s what we need on Sunday.

“We have to defend well, midfielders must ensure that we control the game and created chances for strikers. Strikers must finish off their chances.
“We must do it as a collective.”

The duo of Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba will be tasked with an opportunity to deliver the goals upfront. They have formed a formidable partnership.

The likes of Thulani Serero and Bongani Zungu will be pivotal in terms of spraying those telling passes to the duo of Tau and Mothiba.

Bafana missed out in the last edition of the Afcon in Gabon and they cannot afford to slip again having also failed to qualify for the biggest showpiece on earth last year.


The Mercury

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