Orlando Pirates defender Innocent Maela has reflected on closing the year off with a key milestone when he made his 100th appearance for the Buccaneers during their win over AmaZulu.
The 29-year-old has reached the milestone of 100 appearances for the Buccaneers in their final fixture for 2021 since making his debut back in August 2017.
Before joining the Sea Robbers, the Witbank-born defender also enjoyed stints at Witbank Spurs and Thanda Royal Zulu.
“I never thought I’d achieve such a milestone in my career. Especially for an Academy graduate, it’s sometimes a difficult feat to achieve. But with God’s grace, I did,” Maela told his club’s official website.
“Initially, I wasn’t aware. I was told by a family member who brought up my stats. That’s how it came about.”
Maela admits that his lengthy spell on the sidelines with a muscle tear has disrupted his plans to achieve his personal objectives this season, having only managed to feature three times in the DStv Premiership so far this season.
“Getting injured at the start of the season means you have to start on the back foot,” Maela said. “It affected me a lot, but I’ve fought to be back, and I’m glad I’m here now,” he added.
“It’s very important for us to start next year by stringing together a few wins in a row. It’s also important for us to start the second half of the season in a high note.
“The onus is on us to make sure that we face all the challenges, as difficult as it is, but we know that we’re fully capable.
“We’re not going to hold back, because we know that we have the opportunity to win the Confed Cup, plus there’s also the Nedbank Cup. So we are not going to hold back. We just have to keep working hard and respecting the processes in place.”