Cape Town - Orlando
Pirates defender Innocent Maela says he is over the moon to have earned
his first national team cap during the 2-0 win over Zambia in the Four
Nations tournament on Saturday.
Maela described the experience as a "massively proud moment" that he will cherish for the rest of his career.
The defender who has impressed since joining the Soweto giants, was
among the new faces called by national team coach, Stuart Baxter, for the
tournament that also involved Angola and Zimbabwe.
Maela told the Pirates website: "It has always been a dream of mine to
represent my country. Ever since I was a small boy, I pictured myself
playing for Bafana. When you play international football you face the
best players that a country has to offer and you see a different level
to your game.
"The experience of being in the national team is priceless. I am
grateful to the technical team for having the confidence in me and for
giving me an opportunity to play.
"Without them I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to represent my
country. I also want to thank the coach Mr Baxter for having given me
"It's a life-changing experience playing for Bafana, it comes with a
lot of responsibility and there’s no room for mistakes. You stand
side-by-side with your team-mates and fight for your nation.
"It gives you a lot of humility and see things from a bigger perspective. It’s bigger than the team."
The 25-year old admitted that he did not expect to represent his
country so soon after joining Pirates from then NFD side, Thanda Royal
He added: "It is crazy how quickly things have been happening.
Sometimes I need to pinch myself to remind myself of what is happening.
"Fortunately I have people around me who are helping me to remain
grounded. I am still focused on improving on my craft and hopefully I
can continue improving so that I can make a positive difference to my
club and country.
"The speed at which my career is moving is quite scary when you think
of it, but everything has it’s time and whenever you believe in God and
stay faithful to Him, then remarkable things happen in a short space of
time. I'm truly humbled by how God continues to exceed my