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Maela ready to lead Bucs, if asked


Orlando Pirates defender Innocent Maela said he has noted the calls from Bucs supporters that he should be given the captains armband in the wake of skipper Happy Jele's exit.

The 29-year-old is one of a few players tipped to be a candidate for the important leadership role at the club.

In an interview with media in Johannesburg on Thursday, Maela said if he is asked to captain Pirates then he would gladly accept it if the honour was bestowed upon him.

"Look, it is an honour for me for the supporters to speak so highly of me, but I also know that within the squad, we have so many leaders," Maela told media.

"I'm grateful for them to think of me that highly, but my job and focus right now is to train every day as hard as I can so I can be ready for the new season. Everything else is just talk, but I am aware of talk and I am grateful and honoured because it is loud out there.

"But I also know what I have to do and mine is to just perform every day and train as hard as I can so I can prepare for the new season."

Maela admits getting the captains armband comes with its own set of challenges, including winning the backing of teammates.

"It's normal when a player stays longer at a club that that player becomes a senior, so you assume more responsibility and accountability," Maela said. "But when you play for a club like Pirates, everyone is responsible. If they give me the armband, it will be an honour, but it won't be any pressure because we are a team.

"I know that my teammates will be there to support me and if they give the armband to someone else, I know that I will be there to support that person. But it does not really matter who got the armband as long as everyone is responsible and everyone is accountable and knows what they need to deliver on the field of play, then we will be sorted.

"Yes, we lost Happy Jele, a huge presence within the change-room, but it gives us an opportunity as individuals that everyone needs to step up and raise their game and just be more accountable."