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Mothiba keen to make impression on Bafana fans in Seychelles clashes

Lebo Mothiba is emerging as a key player for South Africa in their must-win Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Seychelles in the coming days, as he seeks to bring his club form for Ligue 1 side Strasbourg to the national team.

Mothiba has five goals in six starts this season, including one for former side Lille, and netted two more this past weekend before flying out for national team duty.

With Bradley Grobler injured and Dino Ndlovu arriving late from China after one of his flights was cancelled, Mothiba is as almost certain starter alongside Percy Tau as Bafana Bafana go on a desperate hunt for goals.     

His chances were also helped when he netted an excellent strike against South African Premier Soccer League side SuperSport United in a warm-up fixture on Wednesday.

But Mothiba has told KweséESPN that he is reluctant to cast himself as the answer to the national team’s problems in the box when asked if he could be that man.

“That is a difficult question because as a striker … sometimes there are games where you do well, score goals and everyone says you are the right one for the national team,” Mothiba said.

“But then sometimes you can go five or six games without scoring a goal and the fans start saying, ‘this one is not a good striker’. I can just go and do my best and if I get the opportunity to score goals, that is what I will try to do. 

“I won’t say that I am the answer to the scoring problems of South Africa. The PSL do have a lot of good strikers, there are good players in the country.”

Mothiba certainly made an excellent impression in his first two senior internationals in March, when he netted on debut against Angola and followed that up with a goal off the bench in the second game against Zambia.

“I was really happy to score those two goals for Bafana Bafana and to win the Four Nations tournament,” he continued.

“There were actually two teams for that competition, one for the first game and the other for the second game. I was in the first game, I scored and we won on penalties. 

“The second game was actually meant to be for the other team, but Zambia were really attacking us and it was getting very difficult.

“The coach [Stuart Baxter] put me in for the last two minutes and said, ‘Lebo, keep the ball and waste time’, but I actually went on and scored, so it was a very good experience.”   

Mothiba admits he has had to adjust quickly this week to what is a different style of play with the national side from what he is used to France.

“The important thing is to get used to the team. The coach uses a different style of play. But I always like to go to the national team and I do my best,” Mothiba added.

“We should see ourselves winning the two games and qualifying for the Nations Cup.

“Most South Africans don’t know me, I left for Europe at 18. I came to France and learnt a lot and now I’m ready to go to the national team, that is where South Africans will get to see me and get to know me.

“I want to help the national side win games, to show people what I have learnt all these years in France.”

Mothiba has been to major finals before when he appeared for South Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and he says it was a moment to savour.

“I learnt a lot in terms of style of play, how other teams organise themselves. It was an amazing experience for me,” he noted.

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