JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana’s poor record against the so-called smaller nations can be put down to - among several other reasons - the opponent’s desire to outdo them, argued striker Dino Ndlovu yesterday.
“People always say we are the underdogs against Nigeria and it’s a shock when we beat them. I can maybe turn that conversation around to say maybe the likes of Libya and Seychelles aim to do better against us,” he explained. “We are bigger on paper.”
Lebo Mothiba and Ndlovu are expected to turn around this shameful history Bafana have against teams ranked lower than them on the continent. The two Bafana Bafana strikers are seen to be carrying the national team’s scoring hopes ahead of tomorrow’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at FNB Stadium after they missed out on last month’s lethargic display against Libya in Durban.
Mothiba, based in France with Ligue 1 outfit RC Strasbourg, was a late withdrawal due to injury, while Ndlovu, currently scoring with ease in the Chinese League for Hangzhou Greentown, wasn’t considered by coach Stuart Baxter.
Bafana were just not at the races in that forgettable goalless draw against Libya - but whether that’s related to not being able to look to the services of these two forwards can only be judged at 3pm when they host lowly Seychelles tomorrow and again three days later in the return leg in Victoria.
“My job is to score goals,” said Mothiba, who really is chomping at the bit to finally add to his two national team caps. “When you are a striker and you score goals, you get confidence and the hunger to want to do it more. I am here to do my best and help the national team. Whether we have two strikers upfront or it’s just me, which I am used to, that is something I am comfortable with. I am used to also holding up the ball and linking up play.”
South Africans have seen Ndlovu in action before in the domestic league while playing for SuperSport United and the now defunct Black Aces. But in truth he was never convincing until his move to Europe. It’s Mothiba who is a bit of a closed book, which probably makes him dangerous to opposition teams as well given the fact that he is such a hit in France.
“With all due respect to my previous coaches here in SA, and they were all good coaches, I don’t think I ever got a real chance to show what I can do,” said Ndlovu when reminded that he has a terrible record on home soil.
He has also not been a regular in the national team because of the ongoing debate that, although he plays abroad, his previous and current clubs aren’t necessarily among the best leagues around the world.
“I will be selfish if I put my needs ahead of the team’s. I want to get a chance, but what is important is for the team to win. We want the three points because we are the bigger team on paper, but we know Seychelles will up their game,” he said.