CAIRO – Bafana Bafana striker Lebo Mothiba isn’t concerned that he hasn’t found the back of the net at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The lanky forward is yet to get off the mark due to limited supply. With better supply, he looked like himself against Egypt on Saturday and showed why he is highly rated in Ligue 1. Mothiba’s strength and ability to hold the ball allowed Bafana’s attack to run at the Egyptian defenders, forming a wall between them and the hosts’ back four. He shielded the ball and played good one-twos with Percy Tau and Thembinkosi Lorch.
The only thing he didn’t do was find the back of the net.
“The most important thing is to do well as a team,” Mothiba said. “We win as a team. Goals will come. There is time for goals. The most important thing is that we work well as a team and win games. Goals will come after. I mustn’t be too stressed out the goals, that I must score, I must score.
Goals will come. I scored against Nigeria and we drew 1-1 (during qualifying). Maybe now they will come with a different strategy. We don’t know. We just have to go there, prepare and do our best.”
Mothiba has an opportunity to score against Nigeria again in their Afcon quarter-final tonight. Bafana reached this stage by eliminating the hosts, while the Super Eagles knocked out Cameroon to set up an encounter with South Africa in the last eight.
“It’s going to be a different game because Nigeria are stronger than Egypt,” Mothiba said. “But I am not sure about the movement. Are they faster than Egypt? That’s what I am not sure about. We must just focus on what we have to do. We have to do what the coach tells us to do, and if we do that we are going to win.”
The team and Mothiba have been heavily criticised by South Africans on social-media platforms. The team was slammed for their poor displays during the group stage, while Mothiba’s struggles to find the back of the net hasn’t won him any admirers.
“If you listen to the comments and what people say, you will never move forward,” Mothiba said. “That’s why I never read the comments or listen to any negative things. The bible says that you must always think about what is good. Don’t think about what is negative. I always listen to the ones who are positive and are saying that keep going the goal will come, just keep fighting. I only listen to those people. The ones who are negative, I don’t.”
Mothiba speaks glowingly about the talent in the Bafana squad. He knows his limitations and strengths, which is why he appreciates his skilful teammates.
“We have good players here, we just have to believe in ourselves,” Mothiba said. “The guys here are too good. I like the way they play. They are too technical, their dribbling and stuff they do with the ball. They’re very good. I wish I was like them, Nyoso (Lorch), Percy or Lebo Maboe.
I am just that player who plays one or two touches, and makes run into space. We have to keep the strong mentality. We shouldn’t have that mentality that we can’t win against Nigeria because we can. We beat them in the first game and we drew the second one (in the qualifiers).
This shows that anything is possible in football.”