Sundowns defender Thapelo Morena shrugs off recent Bafana Bafana snub
Mamelodi Sundowns defender Thapelo Morena has shrugged off his recent Bafana Bafana snub and is preferring to look forward to the coming premiership season instead.
Morena was surprisingly excluded from the Bafana squad that represented SA at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt despite winning the league title and finishing in the semifinals of the Caf Champions League.
The Sundowns player said he respected Stuart Baxter's decision after the Bafana coach went for Thamsanqa Mkhize of Cape Town City with Ramahlwe Mphahlele of Kaizer Chiefs as his deputy.
“I was happy with the squad that was called up for the Africa Cup of Nations because it was what the coach wanted to work with‚” he told SowetanLive on Wednesday afternoon from Sundowns' base in Zambia where coach Pitso Mosimane has set-up their pre-season camp.
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“It was not a setback or anything like that for me.
"But I took it as a way of signaling to me that there are certain areas of my game I must work on.
"I still have time to raise my hand and represent my country in the future.
"That will only happen when time goes on and the football gods say it is my chance.
"What I can control is to work hard so that when an opportunity comes along I am ready to fight for my country.”
Sundowns have added Botswana and Zambia to their pre-season programme and Morena said it was important to prepare outside South Africa in anticipation of participating in the Champions League.
“There are big teams in South Africa to play against but we are getting more experience on the continent‚" he said.
"These are conditions that we are going to experience during the Champions League.
“This is a wise move by our technical team because they are preparing us mentally for what lies ahead.
"You know that it is going to be difficult travelling on the continent and this will put us in the right frame of mind for what we are going to go through.”
Midfielder Oupa Manyisa added that they are laying a solid foundation for the coming season where they are going to feature in five competitions.
“Pre-season is basically for laying the foundation‚" Manyisa said.
"For me personally‚ I am working hard so that I am ready for the start of the season if the coach calls my name.
"I want to raise my hand to the coach to show him that I am ready to play.
"I can’t just step back and think about what happened last season‚ this is a new opportunity I am not going to throw in the towel.”