Innocent Maela plays down man-of-the-match award, credits Orlando Pirates team-mates
Posted: 21 August 2017 Time: 11:11
Orlando Pirates left-back Innocent Maela has refused to take credit after an impressive debut, maintaining that the presence of quality team-mates is what has helped him settle in so quick.
Maela returned to the Buccaneers during the off-season following the end of his loan stay at the now defunct Thanda Royal Zulu and provided the cross that led to the only goal of the game against Chippa United on Saturday.
The defender was eventually named man of the match and while he was thrilled to have impressed on his Pirates debut, he insists his new team-mates made it easy for him to play his best football.
“I need to thank the coach [Milutin Sredojevic] for allowing me to play because it was not easy for him to choose me to play as an unknown at a big club like Pirates,” says Maela, who shares the same father as Kaizer Chiefs left-back Tsepo Masilela.
“However, because he [Sredojevic] believed in me I had to make sure that I don’t disappoint him but then I don’t want to talk about myself. I will rather talk about the team because they helped me so much and when you play with quality players things become easier for you.
“However, as I have said, I would like to thank the coach for fielding me in a top quality squad like Pirates and now we just need to move on. We are confident with the Tuesday game [against Baroka].
“I wasn’t expecting to start [against Chippa United]. All I thought about was to come here, work very hard every day, learn from the best and then take it from there. To my surprise, the coach believed in me and I am happy that everything worked out well and the team fought together and we won,” added Maela.
The 25-year-old is expected to retain his position in the team for the game against Baroka on Tuesday at Peter Mokaba Stadium and keep established pair Marc van Heerden and Patrick Phungwayo on the sidelines.