Stuart Baxter has jumped to the defence of Lebo Mothiba following his below par outing in South Africa’s 2-1 defeat to Nigeria.
The striker came in for a barrage of criticism owing to his poor showing against Gernot Rohr’s men where he fired blanks and conceded a tournament record 10 fouls.
Before his substitution for Lars Veldwijk, the Strasbourg man was finally cautioned by referee Redouane Jiyed for shirt pulling.
85'— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) July 10, 2019
1-1 as Lars Veldwijk comes in for Lebo Mothiba #TotalAFCON2019
However, coach Baxter feels the criticism is unfair, claiming the 23-year-old passed a late fitness test to play against Nigeria.
“I think it’s very important that players feel the trust of the coach in every situation,” Baxter told media.
“Lebo came to me [prior to the game] with the doctor and said he had a hip flex – a problem from Strasbourg.
“We tested him and he was certified fit to play. That was why I took him off because his hip flex was sore.
“I don’t think he played badly. He is a young player playing against experienced players in a very tough game.
“He played a good game only that in the first half, we didn’t give him a very good service but we took him off because he had a little bit of injury.”