Orlando Pirates, one of South Africa’s prominent football clubs, recently clinched the MTN8 trophy after defeating Mamelodi Sundowns.
However, conspicuous by his absence during the trophy-lifting ceremony was their captain, Innocent Maela, who had missed the final match due to an unspecified injury.
The Missing Skipper: Innocent Maela
Innocent Maela’s absence during Orlando Pirates’ MTN8 triumph raised eyebrows among fans and pundits alike.
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The defender, who usually leads the team onto the pitch, was nowhere to be seen.
Instead, vice-captain Richard Ofori took up the responsibility of lifting the coveted trophy.
The club remained tight-lipped about the reason for Maela’s unavailability during the final match.
The Cryptic Hospital Stay
Speculation swirled as Maela’s absence remained unexplained.
The footballer was reported to be in the hospital over the weekend when his team secured victory in the MTN8 final.
Despite the victory, Orlando Pirates refrained from providing any official statement regarding Maela’s condition or the reason behind his hospitalization.
The Twitter Revelation
However, Innocent Maela took matters into his own hands by sharing an image on his Twitter account.
In the picture, he can be seen with crutches, hinting at the gravity of his injury.
Thank you for your kind messages, on my feet now ✊🏽🏆 pic.twitter.com/MCqra7URPG
— Innocent maela (@Decocr7Maela) October 9, 2023
The image was accompanied by a heartfelt message of gratitude for the well-wishes and support he received from fans and well-wishers.
National Team Implications
Maela’s injury extends beyond his club duties. Bafana Bafana’s head coach Hugo Broos expressed his concerns about the defender’s absence, anticipating that Maela would be sidelined at least until December.
This could potentially rule him out of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the following month.