Thapelo Morena Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – If you blink, you might miss Thapelo Morena of Mamelodi Sundowns take off on the wing.

And that’s because his pace is incredible and time seems to lose its rhythm whenever he is on the move.

Opposing players tracking his movements in the field of play also fall to the very same temptation. They blink as well. They always see him landing but never taking off.

At Downs, Morena has been converted to play as a wingback. It is a position the defender-cum-midfielder has turned to his own since he arrived at the star studded club. And that’s because he is able to give both Pitso Mosimane and his technical staff two things for the price of one.

The 23-year-old can both defend and attack in game situations.

“I’ve always been this fast,” Morena says. “At school, I used to do both athletics and play soccer as well. I never struggled with speed, really. I always had it. But what I believe gave an extra advantage not to struggle to adjust here at the club was, I joined them during a midseason break.

“This is where I got to learn how the team plays, what the coach expects from his players and how to implement his instructions.

“Credit must go to both the coach (Pitso Mosimane) and his technical staff for giving me an opportunity to play. They believed in me and gave me a chance to showcase what I can do for the club. That’s why I always leave it all on the pitch, whenever I’m given the nod.”

One of the other reasons Morena doesn’t struggle in that wingback role is because he has played it before when he started out back at Bloemfontein Celtic. The player adds that his time with Siwelele helped him evolve into the multifaceted player he is today.

“I can’t recall how many games I’ve started here at Sundowns, but it’s only twice that I came on as a substitute,” Morena says. “And that’s the thing, any player who wants to have more game time in any club needs to be able to play more than just one position. “You need to be flexible. That’s what I did when I arrived at Sundowns.

"I adjusted. In my view, there’ll always be a player who can fill in your preferred position and play it better than you do. And so, it’s always key to be able to know how to play more than one position, (if you are going to increase your chances of having more game time in a club). That helps.”

With the Chloorkop side having missed out on a chance to win any of the three domestic knockout cup competitions this season, Morena said it was crucial that they treated all of their remaining league matches with great importance if they are to stand a chance of defending their league title.

Sundowns, who are fourth on the Absa Premiership standings with 44 points from 22 league matches, will host Ajax Cape Town at Loftus Versfeld tonight (kick-off 7.30pm).

“I believe the important thing that we need to do is to take it game by game and not worry ourselves too much about how the season is going end,” Morena says.

“If we can do that, I believe that will help us draw closer to defending our league title. Worrying too much about how the season is going to pan out, won’t do us any good. We just need to focus. The Ajax match is not going to be any different. We just have to continue applying ourselves like we have been in other matches and we’ll be fine, I believe.”


The Star

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