Afcon 2019: Baxter defends misfiring Mothiba after dreadful Nigeria outing

The Bafana coach backs his young forward despite his poor performance against Gernot Rohr’s men

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.

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.”