Afcon 2019: Bafana Bafana's Mothiba knows how to stop Ivory Coast dangerman Pepe

The Bafana star has warned his teammates regarding the dangers which some of the opposition players might pose on Monday

There is a famous saying in the English language that 'familiarity breeds contempt', but in the case of the South Africa national team and striker Lebo Mothiba, it might just be their secret weapon.

Bafana Bafana are set to begin their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign on Monday as they take on Ivory Coast.

Just one look at the opposition, who possess several of the continents most prolific players, and it will be understandable if the Bafana players are slightly hesitant when they take to the field.

However, for Mothiba, coming up against players such as Nicolas Pepe is a mere reunion.

“Some players in the Ivory Coast side, I used to play with, and some I have played against,” Mothiba was quoted as saying by Phakaaathi.

The 23-year-old currently plies his trade in the French Ligue 1 with Strasbourg and a lot is expected from him as Bafana look to work their way out of Group D.  

“Especially Pepe, I used to play with him at Lille," he added.

"Pepe is a very good player, he is fast, and good technically. I played with him for a year and I know his quality and that is what I am going to tell the centre-backs.

"We have to be careful and look at him, but the coach (Stuart Baxter) is doing a good job with that, telling the defence and everyone to be careful."

Aside from Pepe, Ivory Coast have an abundance of talent, which includes English-based playmaker Wilfried Zaha. This makes Bafana’s job of stopping the Elephants even more difficult.

“The coach is working with us at training, on how to close them down, how to close space … they have Pepe and … Zaha, but the coach is aware of that and is working without centre backs. Also, our centre backs are fast .. and strong, so I think we are going to do well defensively,” Mothiba expressed.