By MAHLATSE MPHAHLELE
24/08/19 - Defender Morena puts the disappointment of missing Africa Cup of Nations behind him. Mamelodi Sundowns defender Thapelo Morena has shrugged off his recent Bafana Bafana snub, opting instead to look forward to the premiership season.
Morena was surprisingly excluded from the Bafana squad at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt despite winning the league title and finishing in the semifinals of the Caf Champions League with Sundowns.
He said he respected Stuart Baxter’s decision after the Bafana coach picked Thamsanqa Mkhize of Cape Town City with Ramahlwe Mphahlele of Kaizer Chiefs as his deputy.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
“I was happy with the squad that was called up for the Africa Cup of Nations because it was what the coach wanted to work with‚,” he said on Wednesday from Sundowns’ base in Zambia, where coach Pitso Mosimane has set up their preseason camp.
“It was not a setback or anything like that for me. But I took it as a way of signalling to me that there are certain areas of my game I must work on. I still have time to raise my hand and represent my country in the future.
“What I can control is to work hard so that when an opportunity comes along I am ready to fight for my country.”
Sundowns have added Botswana and Zambia to their preseason programme and Morena said it is important to prepare outside SA in anticipation of participating in the Champions League.
“There are big teams in SA to play against but we are getting more experience on the continent‚,” he said. “These are conditions that we are going to experience during the Champions League.
“This is a wise move by our technical team because they are preparing us mentally for what lies ahead.
“You know that it is going to be difficult travelling on the continent and this will put us in the right frame of mind for what we are going to go through.”
Midfielder Oupa Manyisa added that they are laying a solid foundation for the season by featuring in five competitions.
“Preseason is basically for laying the foundation‚,” Manyisa said. “I am working hard so that I am ready for the start of the season if the coach calls my name.
“I can’t just step back and think about what happened last season‚ this is a new opportunity … I am not going to throw in the towel.”