Paris - In-form South Africa
striker Lebo Mothiba has a smile back on his face following his
traumatic transfer to Strasbourg as he looks to continue his recent
sparkling form against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
22, broke down in tears when he left Lille at the end of August, but has
responded by scoring six Ligue 1 goals in 12 appearances at his new
club, each of them key in either a win or a draw as Strasbourg occupy a
respectable eighth place.
"Lille was my first home in Europe and I learned a lot
there. It was difficult to leave but football is like that so I accepted
it," Mothiba told AFP.
"I grew up with a lot of poverty around me... so I have the mentality of giving everything to succeed."
were the first team to beat PSG in any competition last season, and
with Mothiba in fine fettle and the runaway Ligue 1 leaders without
Neymar, the eastern France side are aiming for another upset.
snapped Mothiba up for €4 million euros after Lille
were forced to trim their playing staff by French football's finance
authority due to problems with the club's budget.
Mothiba had been
in Lille since arriving in France from his home-town of Johannesburg in
2014 save for a year-long loan at Valenciennes, his move coming after
he had saved Lille from relegation with a brace on the penultimate day
of last season.
Even more impressive is the rate at which he has
scored: his six goals have come from just 11 shots, seven of which have
been on target.
"We have to be honest, we took advantage of the
situation (at Lille). It's wasn't exactly free but it was still a great
opportunity for us," Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey told AFP.
a good asset for the club. He's smart, calm in front of goal ... he
works for the collective and doesn't try to go it alone in order to make
himself look good.
"He's also a charming guy and super positive to listen to; if you met a woman like him you'd have to marry them!"
form has also carried over to the national team, for whom he's scored
four goals since making his full debut in a friendly against Angola in
His fast international start has led him to being earmarked
as someone who could break Benni McCarthy's long-standing record of 31
goals for South Africa.
"When I selected him for the first time I
did not know whether to select him or adopt him," said South Africa
coach Stuart Baxter.
"He's a sociable person, always positive and
in South Africa we do not have anyone of his profile. He is a natural
striker and we hope he will have a long international career."