Lebogang Phiri ready to play leading role in Bafana

Lebogang Phiri plays club soccer for second division side Guingamp in France.
Lebogang Phiri plays club soccer for second division side Guingamp in France.
Image: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana star midfielder Lebogang Phiri did not have the best start to the year after he was overlooked for the Afcon finals in Egypt.

But now the 25-year-old is about to finish it in emphatic style after delivering a top-drawer performance for Bafana on Sunday.

Phiri powered SA to a 1-0 victory over Sudan with a thunderous strike that banked their first points in the qualifiers for the 2021 Afcon.

"Scoring was the greatest of feelings. I have been anticipating getting minutes in the national team," Phiri said. "I feel I have been doing exceptionally well where I am playing, we have great players in our country and I respect that.

"I have always awaited my chance in the national team and I did my level best and fortunately I got the goal that got us the win. From here it's just to keep going forward."

The France-based ace, who plies his trade with Guingamp in the second division, has only made seven appearances for Bafana since making his debut in 2015. He played second fiddle to others during the tenure of Shakes Mashaba and was not a favourite of Stuart Baxter for some reasons.

Phiri hopes his man-of-the-match winning performance is a sign of more things to come. "For me each and every performance is of importance in the national team because we don't have as much time together.

"Club football has to keep you on that consistent level and when we come to the national team you have to do your level best. It's a booster for me and I know I can give it my all when I play."

Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki handed him an integral role in the team in midfield against the Sudanese. For the first time, Phiri feels he has a coach who believes in him.

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