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Maela: I’ve improved remarkably

Posted: 23 August 2018 Time: 19:30

Orlando Pirates defender Innocent Maela is delighted with the progress in his game under the current technical team, but feels he can still improve in one specific area.

Maela has enjoyed an impressive rise since returning to The Buccaneers following five seasons out on loan to First Division sides Witbank Spurs and Thanda Royal Zulu.

READ: Why Maela almost quit football

The 26-year-old left-back enjoyed 26 starts in all competitions in his breakthrough topflight season in 2017/18, while also going on to earn himself a Bafana Bafana look-in.

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Maela also earned a maiden PSL award nomination as he made the three-man shortlist for the Absa Premiership Defender of the Season award, which was later handed to Siyanda Xulu.

However, the Pirates youth graduate feels, although many would not have seen him while in the lower division, he has already noticed a vast improvement in his own game under the tutelage of Milutin Sredojevic and Rhulani Mokwena.

“I know a lot of people don’t know how I played in previous years [at Thanda] but, for me, when I look at my game now, I’ve improved remarkably because of the work at Pirates,” said Maela.

“I stay after training and practise like 35 crosses with [Justin] Shonga. I always tell him that when I’m running near to the goal-line, he should go to the far post.

“So, as players, we do put in a lot of work. Shonga always practises his shooting; Musa Nyatama his lofted passes; Mthokozisi Dube with his body and trying to be strong. So we do put in a lot of work as individuals as well.”

READ: Pirates contemplating final foreign spot

While he may have risen up the ranks, the Witbank-born fullback is not growing complacent and feels he can still improve on his attacking threat when presented with scoring opportunities.

“My crossing is there, I just need to sharpen it. One area that I need to improve is my defending ability and also converting the chances that I get,” he added.

“Last season I got nine chances and I didn’t even score one so, if I can score and help the team win games, I think those are the areas I’m looking to improve.”

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Article by: Chad Klate (@CKlatey)

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