Thabang Monare, Bafana Bafana, March 2021Backpagepix

Orlando Pirates midfielder Monare hits back at Bafana Bafana criticism

Orlando Pirates midfielder Thabang Monare has broken his silence on criticism surrounding his Bafana Bafana selection for the upcoming international friendly matches.

Bafana are set to play Guinea in Kortrijk, Belgium on Friday, before engaging current world champions France in Lille next Tuesday.

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The inclusion of Monare invited a lot of questions for Bafana coach Hugo Broos who appeared irritated but the player himself has now opened up on the situation.

“My job is on the field. I don't dwell much on what's happening in the media or even on social media,” said Monare as per Sowetan Live.

“I really don't read much into criticism. People have a right to have opinions but mine is to play football and represent my country.”

Broos has never hidden his admiration for Monare, and included the Pirates star in his first-ever Bafana squad for an international friendly match against Uganda in June 2021 although the player could not feature in that match.

At 32, Monare is the oldest player in the squad as Broos prefers younger players in his Bafana rebuilding project.

Monare’s age has further fuelled debate on the omission of 31-year-old Jali and Zwane who is 32.

But the Pirates player is accepting the responsibility of being a senior player in the Bafana player despite having no international football experience.

“I love being around youngsters, speaking to them about a lot of things,” Monare said.

“I enjoy telling younger players how football works and things they must do to have longer careers. I was speaking to [Ethan] Brooks, he's a young midfielder, I like him. I am trying to mentor him, sharing my experience with him.

“I want the younger players in the team to be a better version of themselves or even be better than I was when I was their age.”

The France challenge is expected to provide a huge test for Bafana who are preparing for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

“As an athlete, you always like to test yourself against the best in the world, so I think this is a very, very good opportunity and a great test for us as a team to see how we can fare against the best players in the world,” concluded Monare.