PUMA Football caught up with Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Themba Zwane for a Q&A.
PUMA Football: You have played a number of roles across the midfield, which position do you prefer and why?
Themba Zwane: I prefer to play behind a striker, no 10 position. I can play wherever the coach needs me but if I had to choose 1 position it would be at 10.
What qualities make a great attacking midfielder?
Ability to pass and provide your teammates with goal scoring opportunities. And now and then adding a goal to your skill set.
What is the best piece of trickery/skill you have “borrowed” from another player – either local or global?
I enjoy watching Cesc Fabregas, I learn a lot from him. His ability to always find space on the pitch is impressive. It is not easy in this modern game that has gotten so physical to always have time on the ball. From Cesc I learn how move into space at the right time.
Does the modern tactic of needing to press in on the oppositions half mean you need to adapt your game and be fitter than ever to get through 90 minutes – can we expect to see forward players being subbed more often now days to keep them fresh throughout the season?
The modern game has gotten more physical and players are stronger and faster but the team that can keep the ball and use it wisely still dictates. Not to take away from the fact that teams need to be fitter and faster etc but 8 out of 10 times the team that has better technical and tactical qualities will come out on top.
Sundowns are riding a wave of success winning the league, taking on and beating the best teams in Africa. You have been part of this African adventure – what are the secrets to this success?
At this level attention to detail is key. We have watched so many videos and made analysis of our opponents, so that on match day we know them inside out. We have also gotten stronger as a team, and that camaraderie has been our biggest strength.
Winning the African Champions League must be the highlight of your career – any special moments from that adventure you would like to share?
Without a doubt my biggest highlight to date, is being able to call myself an African Champion. It is not everyday that you get to do this. After the semi final win we started believing that winning the trophy was possible. Even though we had great respect for Zamalek and all that they had achieved, we really believed this was our time. To play in Egypt in front of such passionate fans is unexplainable, I cannot put it into words. It was a dream come true to reach and win the final of a CAF Champions League.
What are your ambitions for 2017?
To help the team retain our PSL title and to attempt to go deep into the CAF champions league again. Personally, I would like to push for a national team recall.
Do you have ambitions to play for Bafana, World Cup dreams?
Yes, it would be a dream come true to play in Russia 2018, the biggest stage in football. I will work daily to achieve it.
Is there a long term dream of playing overseas and if so which league and why?
Yes, playing overseas is a dream every ambitious player should have. English league fascinates me because of the different cultures and nationalities plying their trade there. My favourite team is Arsenal because they play football in a way that excites me.
Do you have a motto you live by?
Not particularly, I just take each day as it comes and try to improve and enjoy myself the best I can.
What is the best football or life advice you have ever gotten?
Nothing really stands out, however if I have to give youngsters any advice, I would encourage them to never fear to be themselves. Everyone wants to fit in with the crowd, so rather be you, be different and be the best version of yourself.
What are your thoughts on the new PUMA Sundowns kit – which of the two (Home and Away) is your favourite and why?
I love both of them equally to be honest. We have used the home more than we have the away, but they are both great quality so I have no preference.
What do you enjoy about the PUMA evoPOWER boots and how do they improve your game?
It is a boot made for football technicians, players who prefer to be on the ball. I have used it since its inception and have enjoyed every colour update. It definitely improves my touch and feel of the ball and accentuates my passing ability.
Are you active on Twitter?
I am not on twitter and have never been, there has been a bogus account opened using my name though.