Thapelo Morena relives the special Bloemfontein return with Bafana Bafana

Thapelo Morena relives the special Bloemfontein return with Bafana Bafana

As Bafana Bafana returned to Bloemfontein for the first time in a very long time, for utility player Thapelo Morena, it was more of his football homecoming, and he had prepared his teammates for what to expect.

Morena, who hails from Randfontein in Gauteng, started his professional football career at Bloemfontein Celtic. He spent five years at the club between 2011 and 2016, the first two in the club’s academy. After scoring a brace in the 3-1 win over Zimbabwe in front of a packed Free State Stadium yesterday, Morena looks back at his special return to Bloem.

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''I think firstly coming to Bloem is something different, the feeling is amazing. I told the guys that when we go to Bloem we will have supporters, so we just have to work very hard and give them a good show on the pitch. For me, it was very emotional because I know I played here, I have a lot of history in this stadium even at the Dr Molemela, so I had to do my level best to give everything they know of,'' said Morena.

From his days at Celtic, Morena is no stranger to the ever-supportive, loud, and cheerful Bloemfontein football fans. He describes his teammates' reaction to the reception and their overall experience of Bloemfontein.

''The guys are very happy, since from when we came here, we saw the atmosphere from the airport even in training when we went to Dr Molemela. So we also as a team wanted to  give back to the Bloemfontein fans and also to the nation,'' added Morena.

Under the guidance of coach Hugo Broos, Morena has emerged as a key impact player for the team. His versatility is a valuable asset, providing a safe option both offensively and defensively. The Mamelodi Sundowns player has embraced this role, as under Broos, every player feels important as part of the team's success.

Morena's impact was felt as soon as he stepped onto the field at the beginning of the second half. Within a mere 10 minutes, he had already scored his first goal. This was a crucial time in the game, as Bafana were exploiting the space behind the Zimbabwean Warriors defense, and Morena’s speed was a game-changer. The 30-year-old revealed that they had put in a lot of work fine-tuning their attack before this game, and it clearly paid off.