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Maela named Pirates captain

Orlando Pirates have announced Innocent Maela as the club's new captain for the upcoming season after long-serving skipper Happy Jele has left the club.

The Emalahleni-born Maela, who is the son of Eric Masilela also paternal half-brother of Bafana Bafana legend Tsepo Masilela, joined the Pirates academy as a 19-year-old in 2012. Maela sharpened his craft on loan spells at Witbank Spurs and Thanda Royal Zulu before returning to the Buccaneers in 2017.

"Orlando Pirates Football Club can confirm the appointment of a new Captain and Vice-Captain ahead of the start of the 2022/23 season," a statement said.

"Long-serving defender Innocent Maela will take up the Captaincy role following the departure of Happy Jele, with Goalkeeper Richard Ofori taking up the role of Vice-Captain.

"A captain is a leader of men, a player who embodies the core values of the club. He inspires those around him and leads in an exemplary manner – on and off the field.

"Maela not only personifies these values, but he lives them. Throughout his football journey which spans over a ten-year period, the 29-year-old has been consistent; and never allowed a situation (good or bad) to change his approach.

"Maela has come full circle. Starting as a youngster in the Clubs’ Academy ranks in 2012, Inno – as he is affectionately known, went on a five-year-long journey away from the club where he went on to cut his teeth, first at Witbank Spurs and then Thanda Royal Zulu.

"In 2017 – where he was captain, the left-back led the KZN outfit to promotion to the Premiership. The following season, Maela was recalled to the club where he has since become a regular feature in the Club."