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'Maybe I'm not a player the coach needs, I have a love-hate relationship with Bafana Bafana' - Paris star Phiri

11:41 GMT+3 14/12/2022
Lebogang Phiri, Paris FC, 2022
South African midfielder Lebogang Phiri has broken his silence on his constant omission from the Bafana Bafana squad.
  • Phiri is dumfounded by his stalling Bafana career
  • The 28-year-old scored in his last game for SA
  • Phiri is a regular for Paris where he is on loan

WHAT HAPPENED? The last time the Paris star played for Bafana Bafana was in 2019 under coach Molefi Ntseki. Phiri scored the only goal of the match in a 1-0 win over Sudan in the 2021 Afcon qualifier.
Ntseki has since been replaced by Hugo Broos last year and the Belgian tactician is yet to hand Phiri a call-up which has left the Johannesburg-born player frustrated.
Phiri, who has spent 10 years playing abroad, is irked by the fact that he has been ignored by national team coaches even when he was in top form at club level.

WHAT DID PHIRI SAY?: "When it comes to the national team, it's always been a love-hate type of relationship. I think I've played abroad [for] 10 years and I've gotten a minimal amount of call-ups," said Phiri on SABC Sport.

"If we have to speak about caps, it's... yeah. To me, in terms of my career, I think it's atrocious. It's something that... I shouldn't be accepting. And I believe I've done my level best.

"I've performed so much on so many levels over the years and, from a very young age, I was a competitor in all the teams that I played. I was in the starting line-up irrespective of the division that I played in," he continued.

"Maybe at this point in my career, I'm not a player the coach needs, he needs other players. We just need to support that. But at times, I've felt like I was on form, performing and doing my level best – I was amongst the best, if not the best.

"I believe that I was supposed to get call-ups, which I didn't. So, that's why it comes back to the first statement I made – the national team and I have a love-hate relationship. I'd love to be there but I hate that I don't get the opportunities that I deserve to be part of it."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Having made his Bafana debut in 2015 in an international match against Eswatini, Phiri has eight caps and two goals for his country, and he was part of the team that won the 2016 Cosafa Cup.
The likes of Andile Jali, Bongani Zungu, Dean Furman and Teboho Mokoena have been preferred ahead of the Bidvest Wits academy product over the years.
Phiri has played in Ligue 1 for En Avant Guingamp and he is currently on loan at Ligue 2 outfit Paris from Turkish club Caykur Rizespor.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR PHIRI? The former Brondby star had a slow start to the current season due to an injury he picked up in August. However, he became a regular for Paris upon his return from injury.
Phiri is expected to feature for Paris when they take on Pau on December 26 as competitive football resumes in France.