BLOEMFONTEIN Celtic skipper Thabo Nthethe reckons working hard at club level has contributed to his return to Bafana Bafana.
Nthethe yesterday replaced Anele Ngcongca, who withdrew from the team that will play Norway and Iceland after his brother died.
Nthethe has already represented the senior national squad twice - against Likoena of Lesotho and Cameroon's Indomitable Lions, where they won 5-0 and 2-1, respectively.
"I have been waiting for this call-up from Bafana Bafana for some time because I have been on top of my game," said the 25-year-old Nthethe yesterday.
"It's always great for any sportsperson to be selected to represent his or her country and obviously I am on top of the world.
"One will have to continue working hard to impress coach Joel Santana and his technical staff and, like any player, the bigger picture is to be part of the team for the 2010 World Cup squad.
"I also want to be part of that team."
Sipho Nkumane, Bafana Bafana's manager, confirmed that Ngcongca, who plays for Genk in Belgium, was on his way back home to Cape Town.
"Anele's brother has passed away and he has since been released to be with family members in Cape Town to prepare for the funeral. Our condolences to his family," he said.
Ngcongca is the second Bafana Bafana player to withdraw from the team this week after Steven "Schillo" Pienaar was ruled out because of a knee injury.
Pienaar, who plays club football at English Premiership club Everton, has since been replaced by Franklin Cale of Absa Premiership side Ajax Cape Town.
Bafana Bafana left for Oslo last night.