Cape Town - It was double joy for Lebogang Phiri as he
signed for French Ligue 1 side EA Guingamp and received a call up to the Bafana
Bafana squad to replace the injured Kamohelo Mokotjo.
The midfielder travelled with the rest of the 25-man squad
to face Nigeria in the opening round of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)
The match will be played on Saturday at Godswill Akpabio
International Stadium in Uyo State, Nigeria.
The 22-year-old is aware of the threat the Super Eagles poses
especially in their backyard but backs South Africa to cause an upset.
“I am confident,
especially about all the players who have been picked,” said Phiri as quoted by
the official SAFA website.
“We have been doing very well as a team, we have a new
technical staff with different players as well, we just need to find common
goal as to what we want to achieve, and if we have the same goal we stand a
very good chance to succeed.
“Of course, they are a tough opposition especially in
Nigeria, but with the confidence the players have in this squad, and the
experience that we have, we should utilise every opportunity that we have going
into the game and express ourselves - and that’s the most important thing to
“It’s going to be a very tough game and a tough travel as
well, but it’s all mental and if we get that one right then everybody will be
prepared to play the game and bring out the best performance ever.”
While new head coach Stuart Baxter is yet to name a starting
XI for Saturday, Phiri knows all too well the amount of hard work Bafana Bafana
have to put in order to come away with a positive result.
“I always say football is the same and right now its different
players, different eras - we just need to stay focused on the ultimate goal,
which is qualification.
“We need not take it as an event but take it as a normal
game with the pressures and responsibilities that it will come with.
“We have to work hard to ensure we get these qualifications
off to a perfect start.
“They have big guns in Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses and all
these good players who are solid, but we also have great players, therefore we
have to work as a team because victory will not just pitch up, we have to work
for it, regardless of who is on the pitch.
“We have to fight for our country, the badge and come out
“We have to show passion and if we don’t make it with all
three points let’s hold our heads high for we would have given a great
Kick off is at 18:00 (SA time).