Black Leopards defender Thabo Matlaba says he expected his call-up to the Bafana Bafana squad last month because he has worked hard for the Premier Soccer League (PSL) club.
‘Festival’ also admits they have not done well as a team this season as they languish at the bottom of the PSL table with 20 points from 24 matches.
However, the 32-year-old explains he has tried to do his best to ensure Lidoda Duvha secure a decent finish at the end of the current campaign, saying he didn’t want to join a small team and just rest on his laurels.
“I was not surprised to be called to the national team. When you are doing well and playing in the Absa Premiership, you have to expect the national team call-up at any time,” Matlaba told IOL.
The former Free State Stars player's move shocked many in the football fraternity when Orlando Pirates announced his departure just before the start of the current campaign as he reveals his ambitions for the Venda-based outfit.
“When I joined Black Leopards, I told myself that I am going there to work and try to help the team finish in a better position,” he added.
“We haven’t been winning but I think that I’ve really tried my best. Players who come from big teams to small teams tend to relax and become complacent but that’s not me.”
On the other hand, the Bafana international with 29 caps is itching for competitive football, whilst lamenting the break due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am a married man with three kids so it’s really a good thing to be back at home, especially considering that I also have a two-month-old daughter,” continued the Leopards skipper.
“But I don’t want to lie, it’s frustrating because we don’t know when we’ll be able to play. This lockdown could be extended and that would mean that it’s more weeks without playing competitive football.”
Although the 2021 Caf Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sao Tome e Principe was called-off due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ex-Buccaneers player will hope to convince coach Molefi Ntseki once again.
Having changed coaches this term from Lionel Soccoia to Luc Eymael and Cavin Johnson, the Limpopo-based club is now coached by Allan Clark and they will be hoping to avoid a demotion to the National First Division (NFD) when the season resumes.