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Owen Da Gama defends Thapelo Morena omission

Posted: 10 March 2017 Time: 16:09

Bafana Bafana interim coach Owen Da Gama has made it clear why he has not selected Mamelodi Sundowns defender Thapelo Morena for the upcoming friendlies later this month.

Morena, who can play as a right-back and right-wing, publicly expressed his desire to represent the senior national team ahead of the squad announcement on Thursday, but was unfortunately left off the list of defenders and midfielders.

Da Gama last year selected the 23-year-old as one of the stand-by players for the Olympic Games in Rio de Jeneiro last year, and this time opted for Chippa United's Diamond Thopola as Bafana's right-back.

READ: Da Gama's Bafana squad announced

However, Da Gama insists that, despite his convincing performances for the Brazilians in recent fixtures, including the CAF Super Cup victory in which Morena subdued the threat of TP Mazembe attacker Meschack Elia, the former Bloemfontein Celic man is not a full-back.

"I still believe that this is a national team, it's not a club," explained the former Celtic coach. "Players are different at clubs and in the national team.

"I don't believe in taking a right-wing and making him a right-back. He might do well at his club – that's fine – but I signed Thapelo at Bloem Celtic as a right-wing and he's been converted because of Sundowns' style of play.

"It's totally different to the national team so I think sometimes you've just got to try and accept that national team is totally different to club football, and I don't believe in converting players at national team level from a right-wing to right-back."

He continued: "Yes, if there are red-card emergencies or injuries and those types of things on the day, but I still believe there are good enough right-backs in this country; there are good enough left-backs in this country."

Bafana will host Guinea-Bissau in the first friendly fixture at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday, March 25, before taking on Angola – at a venue yet to be announced – three days later.

Article by: Chad Klate
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