Maela was part of Baxter’s squad during the COSAFA Cup last year after a successful season with the now-defunct Thanda Royal Zulu, who were National First Division champions at the time.
Maela, who is in the Bafana squad currently preparing for the COSAFA Cup in Polokwane, returned to his parent club Pirates at the start of the 2017/18 campaign and had a fantastic season with the Soweto giants, earning himself a nomination for the Absa Premiership Defender of the Season award, which was scooped by Maritzburg United's Siyanda Xulu.
Maela was also part of Baxter’s squad during the Four Nations tournament in Zambia and did well when he was given an opportunity.
Baxter could look at including Maela, and players such as Siphesihle Ndlovu and Aubrey Modiba, in his squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“We started this sort of transformation with the Four Nations. We’ve given those ones that were quite good another chance to get some more caps under the belts. And I think those will be the ones who will be candidates for the squad [for the AFCON qualifiers],” the former Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United coach told the media in Polokwane.
“I think Innocent Maela looks like he has improved. We took him to COSAFA last year and he was at Thanda. On the back of his performance for us, he went to Pirates. Last year he was one that was just galloping up and down the line, [but] now he is playing. Now he looks like he is affecting the game. So I am hoping for a kick for guys like [Siphesihle] Ndlovu so that they do make themselves candidates.”