Featured International Players: Mbongeni Tshuna



James Burns

JB: What differences in the style of play did you see from Zimbabwe soccer to that of the US?

MT: It caught me offguard how physical the game is. You can see it in the teams we play against, most teams go for size. That’s the style of play here.

JB: So, how have you translated your game to deal with that?

MT: The first day here I really struggled with it but as years have gone by I’ve gotten better at getting separation and avoid getting into body challenges from bigger players.

JB: Would you say you’ve put more of an emphasis on getting stronger or perfecting your technique?

MT: I’ve worked out and I’ve gotten stronger since getting here. Now I’m just working on my technique and making sure I have the ball close to me. My technique and me being aware of my surroundings have improved since I got here.

JB: And I’m assuming you’ve never seen snow before you got here?

MT: In high school I had this dorm room that would look over the school court so every night before class, I would open the window. One night I was about to go to bed and everyone said ‘Oh, we’re expecting a snow day tomorrow,’ and I just didn’t think about it that much. I opened the window the next morning and everything was so di erent. The first thing I thought of was running outside and jumping in it.

JB: What were you wearing when you jumped into the snow?

MT: Just like my shorts, I had to do it.

JB: It’s a lot colder than it looks in the movies when people jump in.

MT: (laughs) Yeah I didn’t think it was as cold as it was.

JB: Are there any players you look up to professionally or maybe from Zimbabwe you look up to?

MT: The person I look up to is my older brother. He played for the University of Maryland and then got drafted to the Portland Timbers (MLS) four years ago. He was the first person at home who came to the US so I kind of looked up to him. We went to the same high school so I’m trying to beat his records.


JB: So you’ve been hearing a lot of ‘oh you’re so-and-so’s brother?’

MT: Yeah so every time I get to a school it’s like oh you’re Schillo’s brother. I want to be known as ‘Mo’ and not just Schillo’s brother.

JB: What was it about Niagara that made you come here?

MT: I used to visit my brother at Maryland and he’s have to take a bus to class because of how big the campus was and I just didn’t like that. I have a friend who told me about Niagara. It was a small campus where you could get place to place easily. I also really liked the diversity of the campus.

JB: With that being said, what are your personal goals for this year?

MT: It’s been a slow season so far, we’re making a lot of progress but the record isn’t showing any. As we begin conference play, we just need to buy into the system and if we do that I think I can score some goals.

JB: Obviously your goal is to win the MAAC Champion- ship, but what’s being said in the locker room.

MT: The goal is to buy into the system. The quicker we do that the better it will be for our matches. We’re returning most of our guys since last year and if we buy into the system everything will open up and winning the MAAC can be an easy thing. If we can win MAAC and make it into the tournament, anything can happen.


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