Mamelodi Sundowns player Themba Zwane is the champion of celebratory moves
Themba Zwane has been one of the most influential players at Mamelodi Sundowns
Themba Zwane not only has a unique way of celebrating his goals but a quick scan of close to 250 professional matches he's played reveals that the 29-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns attacking midfielder has never received a red card.
This just proves that Zwane doesn't only show his cool head off the field but on it as well where he's been one of the key players for Sundowns since his return in 2016 from a season-long loan spell at the now defunct Mpumalanga Black Aces.
Zwane's brilliant way of carving goal- scoring opportunities for himself and teammates earned him many accolades at Aces, where coach Clive Barker was so mesmerised by his dazzling skills that he compared him to SA legend Doctor Khumalo.
The Sundowns midfielder often matches his skills on the pitch with the peculiar way he celebrates whenever he's put the ball into the net.
THE ZOMBIE DANCE
Zwane calls his celebration a Zombie dance - walking gingerly with his head looking the other way.
"That's a kasi celebration, man. We call it the 'Zombie dance' and my boys from ekasi always urge me to do it whenever I score," explained Zwane.
The nippy midfielder had three opportunities to celebrate over four days last week. He netted Sundowns' two goals in their remarkable 2-1 victory over Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca in a Caf Champions League Group A tie and added the winner in a 2-1 triumph over Highlands Park in an Absa Premiership match on Tuesday night.
Zwane, who has 17 caps and one goal for Bafana Bafana, said he was most delighted with his two goals against Casablanca because it was the first time he scored in a Caf competition despite having played 27 matches for the Brazilians.
"You don't know how much those goals mean to me because the coaches always encourage me to take those chances," said Zwane.
"The match against Casablanca was key to us in the Champions League. Had we lost or drawn we would not be so confident of going to the last eight. That I'm the one who scored humbles me because I was still looking for my first goal in Caf competitions."
You really can't blame Zwane for believing the 2016 champions now have it in their hands to progress to the quarterfinals.
A win at home against Ivory Coast club Asec Mimosas on Friday at the Lucas Moripe Stadium and another against Lobi Stars of Nigeria on March 9 should be enough to take Pitso Mosimane's side to the knockout round.
But relief for Sundowns could come even earlier than March 9 if they succeed in doing a double on Mimosas, who they visit in Abidjan on February 12.
"That will be great because we really don't want to leave it to our last tough away match (March 9) to Casablanca," said Zwane of the team's plans to secure a place in the last eight.
Zwane, who still harbours the ambition to ply his trade overseas, admitted that Sundowns are yet to reach the form they were in when they won the Champions League in 2016 but said they are not far off.
"The coach had to find new combinations after the departure of Khama (Billiat) and Percy (Tau), but what's great is that the core of the team that won the Champions League in 2016 is still there.
"We are slowly finding our rhythm with (Guston) Sirino and Lebo (Maboe). I like playing with those guys because we complement each other going forward," said the eldest of four siblings, three of them sisters.
Other than fighting for the Champions League, Zwane maintains that defending the league title will be great for the Brazilians, who last won back-to-back league titles in 2006-07.
"We've won three league title with coach Pitso in the last five years, but what we haven't done is defend it. We have not lost a league match this season and we see that as a big opportunity to correct what we haven't done in the past," he said.
Zwane agrees that winning the league title while fighting for the Champions League will demand a lot from him in terms of contributing more goals as they have been thin upfront, with Jeremy Brockie the only out and out striker contributing goals at the moment.
"I always get on the field with one thing on my mind: to score. If I'm not scoring I have to contribute in terms of moves forward," said the boy from Tembisa who has scored one league goal in 10 matches this season.