DURBAN – Innocent Maela has been presented with a perfect opportunity to show that he is capable of commanding a place in the Bafana Bafana set-up following the absence of regular Sifiso Hlanti who has made the left-back position his own.
The Orlando Pirates defender, however, says he doesn’t feel any pressure on his shoulders ahead of Bafana’s Nelson Mandela Challenge match against Mali at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday (3.30pm kickoff).
Hlanti has been on top of his game at left-back for the national team which has made it difficult for Maela to crack into the starting line-up, but Wits defender Hlanti will miss Sunday’s match due to injury.
Filling Hlanti’s boots is not the only challenge that is facing Maela. The Witbank-born defender will be out to emulate his brother, Tsepo Masilela who represented South Africa with flying colours during his time with Bafana. Ironically, Masilela also played as a left-back when he was a regular for Bafana.
“For me, it doesn’t matter who is here and who is not here. I want to give my all and, hopefully I will get an opportunity to play. For every player that is given a chance turn out for the national team, the responsibility is always huge. It is the same with me,” Maele explained.