Thabo Matlaba focused on Orlando Pirates before Bafana Bafana
Posted: 31 October 2017 Time: 11:00
Orlando Pirates captain Thabo Matlaba is not missing his Bafana Bafana days, and is currently focused on helping his club ahead of the national team.
Matlaba has not been called up to the senior national team since November last year, and has seemingly lost his place to Bidvest Wits' Sifiso Hlanti.
Despite having helped Bafana overcome Senegal in their 2018 World Cup Group D qualifier last year, the 29-year-old, who has 26 caps to his name, has not been given a look-in since the departure of Shakes Mashaba.
However, Matlaba is unfazed as he stresses his primary focus is on helping his club return to the pinnacle of domestic football.
"To be honest, now I'm not worried about Bafana Bafana but I'm worried about my team – to do well in my team first, before I can think of Bafana," he defended.
"I know every player wants to play in the national team, but I need to first do well in my team before I go there. I'm just focused on my team."
Asked if he misses the excitement of being in the national team camp, the former Free State Stars fullback responded: "Why should I miss the excitement [of Bafana camp], I've been there. I'm not a youngster anymore."
His new role under new Bucs mentor Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic has arguably played a massive role in his absence, having only played in central midfield so far this season. But Matlaba refuses to panic as he accepts his club responsibilities ahead of his international interests.
"I know playing for Bafana is very important, which it is to me as well, but now I'm playing as a midfielder and I've lost my place in the national team," he added.
"You'll never know, they might still call me as a left-back, that's why I'm not panicking. I'm just saying let me do well in my team first and not say I want to go back to Bafana, I'll think about that later."
Bafana next face the Lions of Teranga in the replay of their home-leg qualifier at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on November 10, before travelling to Dakar for their final group fixture four days later.
South Africa are currently bottom of the pool with four points from four games, trailing leaders Senegal by four points, and must win both fixtures to land a place in Russia next year.