Themba Zwane: What does the future hold?

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Themba Zwane, GOAL
GOAL
Having achieved everything there is to achieve at Masandawana, is it time for Mshishi to seek a new challenge?
  1. Another good season
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    Another good season

    The man affectionately known as Mshishi to the Mamelodi Sundowns fans is one of the few players who have been consistent in the Premier Soccer League in the last three years. Zwane was one of Sundowns' top performers as they dominated South African football, winning three major trophies in the 2021-22 season. Having established himself as a reliable goalscoring midfielder, Mshishi scored in every competition that Masandawana took part in during the 2021-22 term, including the Caf Champions League even though he couldn't help his side clinch win Africa's most prestigious club tournament.

    In what was his 11th season as a professional footballer, Zwane added more trophies to his growing list of achievements. Mshishi, who has achieved legendary status at the Tshwane giants, won his sixth PSL championship, third Nedbank Cup and first MTN8 title as Masandawana clinched their second domestic treble in the PSL and emulated Orlando Pirates who were the first club to win three major trophies in a single campaign twice since 1996. 

  2. The story of last season
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    The story of last season

    Mshishi began the campaign well, scoring in his first two matches of the term which were against Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8 and AmaZulu in a PSL clash in August last year. Then a five-match run in which Zwane didn't assist nor score followed, but he was playing well with Sundowns embarking on a six-match-winning run across all competitions including wins over Chiefs and Pirates in the league. The Tembisa-born player ended the year on a good note - scoring six goals and providing four assists in Masandawana's last 14 matches of the year 2021 including a win over Cape Town City in the MTN8 final.

    Sundowns dominated their Champions League group after the turn of the year with Zwane scoring goals for the team at a time when Peter Shalulile was struggling to find the back of the net in the continental competition. There were calls for Bafana Bafana Hugo Broos to recall Mshishi to the national team, but the Belgian tactician refused to hand the player a call-up. Zwane had a little dip in form towards the end of the season as assists and goals dried up for him with Masandawana blowing hot and cold which saw the team crash out of the Champions League.

    However, the Tshwane giants managed to clinch the PSL title with four matches to spare before winning the Nedbank Cup to complete a treble on the last day of the season. The former Mpumalanga Black Aces star ended the season with 10 goals and nine assists from 40 matches across all competitions. Zwane was nominated for the PSL Player's Player of the Season and PSL Midfielder of the Season accolades for the third year running, but he missed out on both accolades which were won by his club teammates Shalulile and Andile Jali, respectively.

  3. Any transfer rumours?
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    Any transfer rumours?

    There are no rumours or reports presently suggesting that Zwane could leave the Tshwane giants ahead of the upcoming 2022-23 season. The former South Africa under-23 international is reportedly among the highest-paid players in the country and he is a permanent fixture in Sundowns' starting line-up. There is no reason for Zwane to seek a move away from the Chloorkop-based giants having started his professional career at the club before going out on loan at Aces where he gained much-needed top-flight experience as a youngster. Aces remain the only other club Zwane has turned out for professionally.

    The technically gifted player was strongly linked with a move to Chiefs last year with his previous contract set to expire on June 2021. Masandawana had taken a big risk by allowing Zwane to enter the final six months of his deal and this unsurprisingly attracted interest from the Soweto giants as he is one of the elite players in South African football. However, Mshishi remained loyal to the Brazilians and was rewarded with a lucrative two-year contract extension with the Brazilians having an option to extend by one year and this ended Amakhosi's hopes of signing the 2019-20 PSL Footballer of the Year.

    However, Chiefs have overhauled their squad and they are known to be busy shopping for a top-class attacking midfielder with experience after releasing Lebogang Manyama, Dumisani Zuma and Bernard Parker who was converted into a playmaker towards the end of his spell with Amakhosi. A player like Zwane fits the profile of a quality, experienced playmaker who would improve the Chiefs squad and put the team in a good position to challenge for trophies next season. However, Sundowns wouldn't sell one of their best players, especially to a potential PSL title rival, but this is football, anything can happen.

  4. One big fear for 2022/23
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    One big fear for 2022/23

    A dip in form towards the end of the recent season saw Zwane struggle to influence games like he usually does. The 2019-20 PSL Player's Player of the Year, who will turn 33 in August this year, might be starting to decline and one will be curious to see whether he can still influence matches consistently as he has done in the last seven years.

  5. One big hope for 2022/23
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    One big hope for 2022/23

    For Mshishi to rediscover the form he displayed until the latter stages of the recent campaign and convince Broos that he can still contribute to the national team. During Bafana's recent defeat to Morocco in the 2023 Afcon qualifier, it was quite evident that Bafana were lacking an influential playmaker who could carry balls from midfield and into the final third while creating chances and taking shots at goal. That is something that Zwane would bring to the national team and also plenty of international experience having helped Bafana qualify for the 2019 Afcon finals as one of the team's key players.

  6. GOAL’s prediction for 2022/23
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    GOAL’s prediction for 2022/23

    The accomplished player will look to prove that form is temporary and class is permanent. Zwane played 40 matches this past term which could have affected his form towards the end of the season. At the age of 33, his game time has to be managed well in the new campaign in order to for him to play to his level best whenever he is on on the pitch.