Lebo Phiri backed for big things in Turkey

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Former Bafana Bafana midfielder Maimane Phiri, who spent six years in Turkey, is convinced Lebogang Phiri will excel at his new Super Lig club Caykur Rizespor.

The 26-year-old recently made a switch from French side Guingamp to Turkey’s Caykur, a move Maimane Phiri believes will take his football career to another level.

According to Caykur Rizespor, Phiri, who spent four seasons at Guingamp, has signed a three-year deal. The deal will keep him at the Super Lig side until June 2024.

“I’ve followed him for quite a while and I feel he’s a perfect fit for that League. The way he plays is suited for the Turkey League,” the former Gençlerbirliği Spor Kulübü star told FARPost.

“He’s not your sklilful type of player, but he has a football brain, so I don’t think he will struggle. I think in Turkey size doesn’t matter.”

He is convinced it will help that Phiri has been plying his trade abroad for nine years, having left South Africa at a very young age in 2012.

He added that the move will grow Lebo Phiri and become better “as the Super Lig is a competitive, tough League”.

“I know things have changed a bit from the time I was there, but I think the important thing is to just learn the language as quickly as possible so he can understand.

“He is used to the weather in Europe. He just needs to learn the language fast,” said the 47-year-old Phiri, who played in Turkey between 1996 and 2002.

The former Bidvest Wits attacking midfielder was sold to Danish side Brondby in 2012. He spent five seasons in Denmark before making his move to French Ligue 1 in 2017.

His Bafana debut came in 2015, and he has gone on to represent the national team eight times, notching two goals in the process.

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By Mthokozisi Dube