JOHANNESBURG - Mamelodi Sundowns’ Thapelo Morena has been one of the more consistent players this season in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) but his impressive displays have not been enough to catch the eye of Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter.
Instead, Baxter has preferred Cape Town City right-back Thamsanqa Mkhize or the currently injured Ramahlwe Mphahlele.
Mphahlele operated as right-back in Baxter’s first return match as Bafana coach, against Nigeria in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. Since then though, Mkhize, who made his debut against Burkina Faso in their World Cup qualifier at the FNB Stadium in September, has been deputising in his absence.
The Cato Ridge born defender also went on to play against Senegal, home and away, in World Cup qualifying matches.
Is Morena really bothered by being snubbed?
“The national team is the national team. It’s what the coach sees. I can’t say anything about that (being snubbed) but it is not something that is bothering me. I’m just here (at Sundowns), playing my normal football and giving my best,” he explained.
Morena arrived at Sundowns as an attacking player but was converted into a right-back, a position he is enjoying at the moment.
“I’m happy to get the chance to play regularly. First of all, I would like to say thanks to the technical team for believing in me and for offering me an opportunity to play.
“The role that I’m playing, I’ve gotten used to it. At my previous team I played as a right-back before, so when I got here I was taken to right-back.
“Even at the national team, I once played as a full back. I’ve been improving as a player in that role. It is all about the tactics that we normally use and everything that we planned on. That’s why it seems so easy for me,” Morena elaborated.
While he is enjoying game time, Morena knows he has to stay on his toes with the likes of Anele Ngcongca, Asavela Mbekile and Siyanda Zwane waiting in the wings..
“I’m not competing with them but I’m always learning from them. They always help me in each and every game. After every match we talk, they tell me my mistakes and where I should improve,” Morena stated, adding that he is not married to any position.
“You never know. In the next game I may play somewhere else. Wherever I’m told to play, I will give it my best. I don’t have any problem with changing the position. When we train, we know what to do and where we will play,” Morena said.
Sundowns will welcome Maritzburg United to Loftus Versfeld in a Absa Premiership clash tomorrow at 7.30pm looking to better what has thus far been a pathetic home run of one win from four matches..
“We will do our level best to improve our home record. We know the stats are bad. We are just going to go back and see what we have to do and work hard on improving.”
He believes they have a squad good enough to shine even brighter.
“This team can go very far as long as we keep on working hard and keep respecting each other. Things will go positively for us,” said the player who is keen to add to the two trophies he has won in the yellow and royal blue colours of Sundowns after arriving from Bloemfontein Celtic.
“I’ve won the Caf Champions League and the Caf Super Cup since I’ve arrived here. My focus now is to win domestic titles. The two remaining titles(the league and the Nedbank Cup) are key moreso the league because if we win it we will go back to the Champions League.
“Whenever we get that opportunity will always grab it. We have to do our best and try and get maximum points in each and every game we play,” Morena stated.