Zama Dlamini: Baroka Are Not In The Final By Luck

Zama Dlamini: Baroka Are Not In The Final By Luck

Baroka have always been a team that’s capable of surprising anyone, especially since the days of Sello Chokoe where they beat teams like Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows in the Nedbank Cup whilst still playing at the ABC Motsepe league. Success was inevitable and we all knew that this team would one day play in the top flight of South African football. After reaching their first ever cup final, we caught up with one of their players, soon-to-be 27-year-old goalkeeper, Zama Dlamini.



Banele Pikwa: Thanks for your time Zama and congratulations on reaching the club’s first ever cup final. How is the mood in the camp?

Zama Dlamini: I can say that everyone is very happy because most of amajita (the guys) have never played a cup final before and for some players bayaqala ukudlala kwi PSL (it’s their first time playing in the PSL). So, I’d say everyone is happy and the group that we have currently is the group that I will never forget. As you can see, ngiphelelwa amagama uma ngikhuluma ngabo (I run out of words when trying to describe this group).

BP: In the match against Mamelodi Sundowns, your assistant coach Matsemela Thoka made unusual comments and some fans felt that he was having a go at the head coach. Did you, as the players, also feel the same?

ZD: I won’t comment about what the coaches say [to the media]. But what I can say, is that when he [Matsemela Thoka] was in charge there was no difference in terms of coaching the team. He prepared the team the same way as the head coach. Everything was the same when he was in charge. That’s all I can say, but I won’t comment on other things.

BP: That’s fair. When coach Wedson Nyirenda came back, was the response the same from the players or was there any awkwardness?

ZD: No man, everything was normal. That’s all I can say. 

BP: Orlando Pirates fans were happy when Baroka beat Bidvest Wits and some have claimed that the trophy drought is over. They have written Baroka out completely. What do you have to say about that?

ZD: It’s just comments from the fans, but all I can say is that we all play in the PSL and to us there are no small teams and big teams. We are on the same level, but the fans are entitled to their opinion and uyawazi ama fans wePSL anjani (you know how local fans can be). In a cup final, anything is possible so we do have a chance. We are not here by fluke and beating the teams that we beat should show signs that there are no big teams and small teams, like I said earlier. I trust these boys. They have put in a good shift in all the games.

BP: I know it’s still early, but have you started thinking about the final? I mean this is the club’s biggest game against a very strong Pirates team.

ZD: It’s exciting that we will play in the final but we still have matches in between and we have to focus on those matches. What I know is that our main focus is the league games because if you can check, you will see that we started very slow. Making it to the final when the morale is high will be a big boost and everyone is very excited. We are not here by mistake and we’ve really worked hard as a team. We deserve everything we’ve achieved so far, but like I said, the league is our main goal.

BP: Baroka have always been an ambitious team since the days of Sello Chokoe and even in the Thobejane era. What do you mean when you say that the league is your main goal?

 ZD: I mean that our main target is to finish in the top eight. Everything else would be a bonus and I hope we don’t only make the top eight but we surprise everyone and qualify for CAF Confederations Cup nathi sidlale eAfrica (so we can also compete against African teams). But we have to do well in the league and that’s our main target.

BP: The club has been different ever since Wedson Nyirenda took charge. Tell me about him. 

ZD: He is a great coach and to us he is more than a coach, he is a father figure, maybe it’s because he is also a pastor. Even when you check our style of play, it’s very different. He is very good, he brought new players which changed the attitude and mentality in the team and a lot has changed since he took charge. He has done everything a coach needs to do. And now, everything is left with us [the players] to finish the job.

BP: We saw him dancing after the game. Is it something the players taught him?

ZD: No, idance yakhe ke leyo (that’s his dance). He always dances like that, even at training, he does those dance moves. Even though everyone dances in the team, the moves you saw are his moves. Nobody taught him anything.

BP: Being a goalkeeper is not easy because there can only be one goalkeeper on the field. How difficult has been for you since moving from Chippa United?

ZD: All I can say is that I’m happy here and the club wants me to be here. If I can tell you, I should’ve came here two years ago, because the club showed interest in me but I decided to join Chippa [United]. So, for me, coming here was a great move and I’ve learnt a lot from the other guys and we don’t have this thing of competition where it leads to one being jealous of the other. Here, we are friends, and we work together to ensure we push each other and we back whoever is selected to play because you are representing us [the goalkeepers]. We always motivate and encourage each other to grab each opportunity with both hands. The hard work we put in and the relationship we have has made it hard for the coaches to select.

BP: Thanks a lot for your time Zama and good luck with everything – particularly the final.

ZD: It’s a pleasure, kubonga mina (thank you).