Themba Zwane will hope for a different result against Esperance on Wednesday. Photo: BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – In that historic win over Nigeria in Uyo last weekend, Themba Zwane struck the woodwork twice in a clash he said he was so desperate to score in.

And although South Africa went on to win the 2019 Afcon qualifying encounter 2-0, the Mamelodi Sundowns star midfielder wished his two attempts at goal would have gone in, too.

They could have added to the tally they produced in their first ever win in an official match against the Super Eagles.

The scoreline could have been 4-0, instead of 2-0.

And that’s how Zwane’s mindset is framed. The skilful, attacking midfielder never allows himself to get too comfortable with his current achievements. He’s always striving to become more, a better version of his current self.

“Like now,” Zwane says. “My dream is to earn a move abroad. I want to play in one of the best leagues of this world.

“Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC midfielder) is one of the players who inspires me to continue working on my game. I always want to get better, always. That’s why I always leave it all out on the pitch.

“It doesn’t matter whether I’m playing for Bafana or my home team Sundowns. I always push to give it my best. That’s why I was so disappointed when I struck the woodwork.

“Upon our arrival at the airport there in Nigeria, some of the locals told us that we must forget about the possibility of beating their senior national team, especially at home. They told us that we were going to lose that encounter.

“That alone was the motivation for us to do well in that match. We also had a proper game plan. The coach told us to always maintain shape at the back and catch them on the counter. And we did that pretty well.”

Zwane’ Sundowns side will undoubtedly be met with a similar type of boastful talk from the locals when they arrive in Tunisia ahead of their second leg Caf Champions League clash against Esperance de Tunis on Wednesday night (11pm SA time).

Those mind games started two weeks ago when Esperance’s assistant coach Othman Najjar said he was pleased with his side’s 2-1 victory over Sundowns after the first leg, and that there was no way that they were going to lose against Downs in the second leg at home.

He was industrious for Bafana against Nigeria, but Themba Zwane hit the upright twice. Photo: BackpagePix

That statement triggered an emotionally charged response from Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, who said that Najjar should first win both the Caf Champions League title and Caf Coach of the Year award before he can start thinking about holding a proper conversation with him as equals.

Zwane said it will be ideal if they can return home with a win, rather than having to wait for their remaining two matches to carry on fighting for a top two finish that will see them progress to the quarter-finals.

As it stands, Sundowns are third in Group C with four points from three matches. “We are the defending champions and it’s very important that we go there with plenty of fight and come back with a win,” Zwane says.

“We know that it’s not going to be easy, as we’ll be playing away from home, but we also know that it’s possible.

“It’s better to get out of this position we find ourselves in now, rather than wait to do it in our remaining two games. The sooner we start with it, the better.”


Sunday Independent

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