Could Lebo Mothiba be Bafana’s next Nigeria nemesis?


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When Stuart Baxter announced his Bafana Bafana squad for the upcoming 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria, the Super Eagles will surely be delighted that Tokelo Rantie was absent from the 23.

During the Afcon qualifying campaign for the 2015 edition, the new Cape Town City man scored three goals in two appearances against the 2013 champions. 

On 19 November 2014, Rantie tore away from the helpless Raheem Lawal and also powerfully shoulder-charged him to the ground as he made his way past Efe Ambrose, sprinted past Azubuike Egwuekwe, before firing – at the near post – high into Vincent Enyeama’s net to silence the Uyo crowd. 

As if that was not enough, moments after the break, Rantie’s strength and bustling speed outdid Kenneth Omeruo as he unceremoniously bundled the defender to the ground, before he fired past Enyeama, again, with aplomb.

It was no different when these two clashed again in the first leg of the current qualifying campaign on 10 June 2017, as Rantie once again capitalised and punished Nigeria’s sloppy defending in the 2-0 loss.

Tokelo Rantie AFC Bournemouth September 2014

Despite Nigeria’s convincing dominance in this fixture, with seven wins, four draws and two losses, the South Africans have always possessed a threat of some sort, with Rantie being the key threat in recent fixtures.

Benni McCarthy, Shaun Bartlett, Sibusiso Zuma and Siyabonga Nomvethe are some of the names that have always been highlighted heading to this fixture in the recent past, and going to this Group E encounter, the hosts once again have a name worth causing any opposition sleepless nights.

Lebo Mothiba of Ligue 1 side Strasbourg has been identified as the man who will potentially eclipse McCarthy’s long-standing record of 31 goals for the 1996 African champions.
 
Mothiba has been in red-hot form for Strasbourg since his arrival from Lille on a three-year contract for $4.4 million on transfer deadline day, and has hit six goals in 10 appearances for Le Racing so far. 

His tally for the season stands at seven goals [one goal scored while still at Lille] in 12 appearances. Lebo Mothiba - Strasbourg vs. Monaco

Standing at 1.82 metres tall, the Tembisa-born forward can certainly match the Nigerians’ physical presence and strength, while he has also proved to be clinical with his head; two of his goals thus far have come from headers.

He is also equally clinical with his feet, netting four times with his right foot and once with his left. 

More bad news for the Super Eagles is that the forward also brings his scoring boots with him to the national team. He recently created a piece of history in the 6-0 drubbing of Seychelles last month, when he became the first player to score in his first three games for Bafana. 

Perhaps Rohr could consult ex-Super Eagles skipper Joseph Yobo, who endured both delight and dishonour when he came up against the legendary England marksman Alan Shearer. South Africa’s new gem has, after all, been likened to the former Newcastle United great by Baxter.

South Africa can’t don’t have Rantie in their ranks for this heavyweight showdown, but in Mothiba, Nigeria could be about to be introduced to another red-hot nemesis.

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‘I’ve got a lot of offers’ – Bolt to decide on football career by the end of November

Usain Bolt revealed he may give up on his dream of becoming a professional footballer despite having “a lot of offers” and that he will make a decision on his future by the end of November. 

The eight-time Olympic champion, 32, was unable to agree to a deal with the Central Coast Mariners after a trial with the A-League club.

Bolt has now given himself until the end of the month to make a decision, and while the sprinting great said he had options, he also made clear that he is considering putting an end to his dreams of a football career. 

“With the Central Coast, we couldn’t work out the contract stuff so that’s dead, but I’ve got a lot of offers from other clubs out there,” he said on Wednesday.

“Now we’re just trying to figure out what [to do].

“We’ll make a decision before the end of November if I’m going to go to another club or call it actually quits.”

Bolt scored twice for the Mariners during a friendly in October, but the parties were unable to agree to a deal despite the Jamaican’s management team confirming that the A-League club had made an offer. 

The former sprinter has been looking to make a career in football since he retired from athletics following the 2017 World Championships in London.

Bolt has previously trialled with teams in Germany, Norway and South Africa without landing a professional deal.

However, he did appear to turn some heads in Australia, as while on trial, he was offered a contract with Maltese side Valletta, which he turned down.

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In addition, the president of the Jamaica FA said should Bolt show further development of his footballing abilities, he could be in line for an international call-up.

Despite the offer of a deal, reports claimed that Bolt and his team were looking for something in the region of £1.6m ($2.1m) to sign for the Mariners, a massive sum by A-League standards. 

Even earlier this month Bolt was assuring that he would carry on in his search for another chance at making his footballing dream a reality, though that optimism seems to have wavered some with the admission that he could put a stop to his search for a club. 

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Wagner: Bayern are Germany’s best team ‘by far’

Bayern Munich forward Sandro Wagner dismissed any suggestions the club were rebuilding, saying the Bundesliga champions have “by far” the best team in Germany. 

Borussia Dortmund have made a fine start to the season and are four points clear atop the table and seven ahead of Bayern after winning a thrilling Der Klassiker on Saturday.

Bayern, on the other hand, are off to a slow start and sit fifth in the league table, having picked up just six wins in 11 matches. 

Despite that, Wagner feels Bayern are better than Dortmund and all other challengers in the Bundesliga, and the Germany international urged his team to respond and win the league title.

“It’s crazy when you look at the league table. We are fifth, which can’t be the aspiration of Bayern Munich or us players,” he said.

“We have to win the Bundesliga title this year, anything else would be a disappointment. We have the best team by far, in Germany.

“Of course, Dortmund have played a couple of good games, but in my opinion we are the better team.

“Therefore, every single player needs to have the ambition to become a German champion. To say it’s a rebuilding phase or similar is rubbish.

“We have to win the Bundesliga.”

History is not of the side of Bayern.

Bayern have won six successive titles, with Borussia Dortmund the last side to break their dominance with victory in 2011-12. 

But the club have never come back to win the title after trailing by such a distance at this point in the season, heightening pressure on new boss Niko Kovac.

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And while Wagner believes Dortmund have played “a couple of good games”, BVB are actually on pace for one of their best seasons in the Bundesliga. 

Only twice have Dortmund earned more points through 11 matches than the 27 they have picked up this season and this campaign marks just the second time the club have reached this point in the season unbeaten. 

Both clubs get a bit of time to get things right over the international break, with Bayern set to return to league action with a clash against Fortuna and Dortmund set to take on Mainz. 

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Matuidi: Mbappe has a great personality, like Ronaldo, Messi and Zlatan

Kylian Mbappe needs his great personality, just like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to France team-mate Blaise Matuidi.

Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe has developed into one of the world’s finest attacking players over the past three years and is one of the leading candidates to win this year’s Ballon d’Or, having lifted three domestic trophies at club level and the World Cup in 2018.

Matuidi thinks the 19-year-old has the self-confidence and persona to become a true great in the game.

“It is his personality. It’s the player he is,” Matuidi told a news conference when asked about Mbappe’s forthright nature. 

“He is a great player; he is very talented. Every great player has a great personality. I’ve known that with Zlatan. I see that with Cristiano. Messi is also like that.

“Kylian will be a great player. He is already. He is doing big things. It’s good; we need players like him. So, I encourage him to stay like that.”

Matuidi was speaking ahead of France’s Nations League clash with Netherlands on Friday, when a draw will be enough to send Didier Deschamps’ side into next year’s finals.

However, the Juventus midfielder is wary of underestimating a side who beat Germany 3-0 in their last competitive outing.

“I think we have to defend well,” he said. “Netherlands scored three goals against Germany. They have many qualities, especially defensively. We have to be good in every aspect.

“We have to stay solid. That’s one of our qualities. We have players who can make the difference. We are able to keep the ball and make the game difficult for our opponents. They can be dangerous but France can also be dangerous. We have talented players to make things difficult for them.”

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Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko was rewarded for some good recent club form with a call-up to the squad, and Matuidi is delighted to see the midfielder’s determination rewarded.

“Moussa is a warrior,” he said. “He never gives up. He is my friend. He had some difficult moments but he always told me that he would never give up.

“He is doing great with Tottenham. He performs, so he deserves to be here with France. I am happy to be with him again. I think he is a warrior. He deserves what is happening.”

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Man City confirm Mendy has undergone knee surgery

Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy is facing another spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a left knee injury, the club have confirmed.

It is understood that the procedure relates to a meniscus injury, one that is not as serious as the right ACL injury that kept him out for most of last season.

No official timeframe has been put on his recovery but Goal understands the France international is hoping to be back in contention in around one month’s time.

A statement on the City website says: “The 24-year-old defender attended Dr. Cugat’s clinic in Barcelona where scans revealed that surgery was required.

“That surgery was conducted on Wednesday evening and everyone at Manchester City wishes Benjamin a speedy recovery.”

The defender played all 90 minutes of City’s 3-1 derby victory over United on Sunday, but was forced to withdraw from the France squad the following day. 

Mendy confirmed the injury on Instagram in trademark style, saying: “Other knee was jealous but the operation went well and its all good now.”

 
 
 
 
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Other knee was jealous but the operation went well and its all good now 😘 be back soon guys u just have to find another FPL captain for some games 😝✌🏾

A post shared by Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) on

City sources have told Goal that Mendy felt discomfort in his knee following Sunday’s Manchester derby, and subsequent examinations, by the French national team medical staff City doctors and Dr Cugat, confirmed the need for surgery.

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Though he recovered from his ACL tear in time to make France’s victorious World Cup squad this summer, Mendy’s injury problems continued when he missed a month earlier this season with a foot injury. 

The defender returned from that problem and has made 10 total appearances for City this season, but is now facing another spell on the sideline.

City return to action after the international break when they travel to West Ham on November 24.

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