This is a file photo of Lebohang Phiri during an international friendly match between South Africa and Zambia in 2017. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Lebohang Phiri has no intention of quitting Bafana Bafana despite his lack of game time for his country. The France-based midfielder has struggled to command a regular starting berth in the Bafana set-up.

The Alexandra-born midfielder features regularly for French Ligue 1 outfit Guingamp. He was not in the squad that participated in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Unlike teammates Kamohelo Mokotjo and Thulani Serero, who previously quit Bafana due to their frustration at warming the bench, Phiri is willing to bide his time.

“For me, in terms of disappointment, it is never something that happens if I don’t play. I just go back and work on improving my game. I’m getting more out of training in terms of solidifying my place in the team. When you come to the national team, you come and deliver and we are all united,” Phiri told Independent Media ahead of the Nelson Mandela Challenge contest between South Africa and Mali in Port Elizabeth today (3pm kick-off).

Phiri is expected to start today.

“Not getting played at the specific time doesn’t necessarily mean you are not the best, you are not good enough to be part of the team. I’ll always be focused and be ready to get another call up. Obviously if that doesn’t happen, I’ll keeping working hard because being on top of my game at club level helps in terms of selection."

With Bongani Zungu out injured, Phiri might finally get an opening to prove his worth.

“I don’t think it is ever about proving your worth in the national team. Obviously it is every coach’s decision as to whom he picks to represent the country. I’ve been given a chance to come here and represent my country and if I make the line-up I have to take it with both hands. But if not I won’t feel I’m less worthy of anybody else’s position in the squad,” he added.

Growing up on the dusty streets of Alex is the reason why Phiri wants to achieve more success in Europe.

“Playing in Europe has given me something to improve my family’s condition. I felt that the life that I grew up living wasn’t the best. I’ve always wanted to give back to my family. I live by the motto that says once you start living for something only then will you find the desire to succeed. All that success comes from my family, upbringing and the guidance that they gave me,” Phiri said.


Sunday Independent