18 July 2017 – Bafana Bafana midfielder Teboho Mokoena says the second leg clash against Botswana in the 2018 CHAN qualifiers is a new ball game.
Unfortunately the Supersport United man will play no further part in the upcoming qualifier after his club recalled him.
His place has been taken by his teammate at the Tshwane side, Michael Morton, who has already reported for national team duty.
Morton arrived in camp on Monday, 17 July, shortly after Bafana Bafana’s 2-0 victory over Botswana in the first leg played on Saturday, 15 July 2017 at the Francistown Stadium in Botswana with goals coming from Ryan Moon and Gift Motupa.
Despite Bafana Bafana carrying an advantage into the return leg, Mokoena, who had a blinder in the first leg, says they have to be careful.
“Yes, the lead is an advantage but doesn’t mean much. If we were able to score two goals away, then it certainly means they can do the same. We have to treat this as a new ball game where the score is 0-0. We have to work hard and ensure that we win this game so as to proceed to the next round,” said Mokoena.
“We should have the same mentality as we had in the first leg so we can win again. We need to defend well, keep a clean and that will help us proceed further in the qualifiers.”
The midfielder says his assessment is backed by how well Botswana played in their backyard.
“The match went according to plan, just the way we wanted it. We worked very hard to get the positive result, and that is a positive when they come to us in South Africa for the second leg. It was a tough match but we were able to manage it very well by following the coach’s instructions and that’s how we were victorious,” adds Mokoena.
At just 20 years, the U20 international seems like an experienced campaigner. But he only burst onto the scene this past season just ended at Matsatsantsa after coming through the development structures of the club. He only made his PSL debut at the club in October last year.
In just that short period of time he has lifted the Nedbank Cup trophy with his club, played in the U20 CAF African Youth Championship in Zambia and the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup with Amajita.
“I would say yes this was my year indeed. And if you think about it, at the beginning of the season I did not have enough game time, but after my return from the U20 AYC in Zambia things changed and I started playing regularly at my club – starting in the CAF competition then followed it up with the league, and the Nedbank Cup and I proceeded to the world cup. So I think all those opened the doors for me to find myself today at Bafana Bafana,” said Mokoena.
“To be honest I am very happy and excited to have been here because this is something I never thought I will achieve at this age. I see this as a blessing, and this is perhaps one of my proudest moments. I am excited to have achieved this milestone. I have been working very hard this season, especially in the second round of the league. I also think my performances with Amajita also had an influence on my selection, those opened the doors for me and I am glad I am here.”
While he has made it into the CHAN squad, he still dreams of playing in the AFCON and World Cup squads.
“It is a dream of mine to play in the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers, obviously it will be up to the coach but whenever he calls on me I will always give my best and give 120 percent. I still need to work harder going forward and see what I can achieve. I have set some goals for myself and for me to reach them I need to be consistent and disciplined in what I do. If I keep us with that, this will most likely help me in the future,” said Mokoena.
South Africa and Botswana meet on Saturday, 22 July 2017 at the Moruleng Stadium in the North West Province.
Kickoff is at 15h00.