Cape Town - It was double joy for Lebogang Phiri as he signed for French Ligue 1 side EA Guingamp and received a call up to the Bafana Bafana squad to replace the injured Kamohelo Mokotjo.
The midfielder travelled with the rest of the 25-man squad to face Nigeria in the opening round of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The match will be played on Saturday at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo State, Nigeria.
The 22-year-old is aware of the threat the Super Eagles poses especially in their backyard but backs South Africa to cause an upset.
“I am confident, especially about all the players who have been picked,” said Phiri as quoted by the official SAFA website.
“We have been doing very well as a team, we have a new technical staff with different players as well, we just need to find common goal as to what we want to achieve, and if we have the same goal we stand a very good chance to succeed.
“Of course, they are a tough opposition especially in Nigeria, but with the confidence the players have in this squad, and the experience that we have, we should utilise every opportunity that we have going into the game and express ourselves - and that’s the most important thing to do.
“It’s going to be a very tough game and a tough travel as well, but it’s all mental and if we get that one right then everybody will be prepared to play the game and bring out the best performance ever.”
While new head coach Stuart Baxter is yet to name a starting XI for Saturday, Phiri knows all too well the amount of hard work Bafana Bafana have to put in order to come away with a positive result.
“I always say football is the same and right now its different players, different eras - we just need to stay focused on the ultimate goal, which is qualification.
“We need not take it as an event but take it as a normal game with the pressures and responsibilities that it will come with.
“We have to work hard to ensure we get these qualifications off to a perfect start.
“They have big guns in Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses and all these good players who are solid, but we also have great players, therefore we have to work as a team because victory will not just pitch up, we have to work for it, regardless of who is on the pitch.
“We have to fight for our country, the badge and come out tops.
“We have to show passion and if we don’t make it with all three points let’s hold our heads high for we would have given a great performance.”
Kick off is at 18:00 (SA time).