Mothiba buoyed by Lille progress

Mothiba was recently recalled by Ligue 1 club Lille following an impressive first half of the season at second division club Valenciennes, where he managed eight goals and two assists in 20 appearances.

The Diambers academy graduate initially moved to France back in 2014, joining the Lille under-19 side before being promoted to the B-side in 2015.

However, he struggled to find his feet and cope with the demands at the top flight club, and was subsequently sent out on loan to Ligue 2 in January 2017.

A year later, the 22-year-old frontman has improved in leaps and bounds, scoring on his first team debut against Nantes last month before adding another in his sixth appearance against Monaco last week.

“Things have been going well, even though at the moment we’re not doing well in the league. But since I’ve come back, the coach and players have been good to me,” Mothiba says from the camp in Ndola, Zambia.

“There’s a lot of trust, so I’m enjoying myself thus far. My time playing in Ligue 2 helped me gain confidence and now I can see I’ve improved  a bit since coming to Ligue 1.

“Ligue 1 is a very fast and aggressive league and it’s helped me to improve in terms of my movement, asking for the ball and how to keep the ball. But I still think I can improve more.”

Lille are currently second from bottom on the Ligue 1 table and are faced with a hefty task of surviving relegation with just eight games to go.

Bafana has previously been blamed for European-based players losing their places in their club sides due to their prolonged absence while travelling longer distances, but Mothiba says he is unconcerned about his club situation at this stage.

“No, I’m not concerned about that. This is football, you never know what will happen. I’ve been called up because I’m doing great for my club,” said Mothiba.

“Being here means my focus for now is with Bafana because I’m part of this team, so I’m just looking to help the team win these upcoming games. When I go back to France then my focus will switch back to my club.”

Bafana will be in action against Angola in their opening match of the four-nations tournament at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium this afternoon at 15h00, after Zambia and Zimbwabe face off at 13h00.