Arthur Zwane is hoping Kaizer Chiefs can make this their greatest season ever
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JOHANNESBURG - I HAVE always said to people, there’s no short cut in life. If you are working hard every day, doing positive things, you will always be rewarded. You don’t have to blow a horn to be seen. There’ll always be people who see. Yours is just to embrace the opportunities.
Arthur Zwane does not speak much. From way back when he was a player, the man Kaizer Chiefs fans fondly referred to as 10111 preferred to let his feet do the talking on the pitch. On the rare occasions that he does speak though, he delivers pearls of wisdom.
He was at it prior to Amakhosi’s departure to Casablanca, Morocco where he will sit alongside coach Stuart Baxter who has finally got his work permit to lead the Glamour Boys in their quest for the ultimate continental club football glory in the CAF Champions League final against holder Al Ahly of Egypt.
Thrust into the leading role as head coach, along with Dillon Sheppard following the sacking of Gavin Hunt with the team already in the semi-final, Zwane embraced the opportunity alright!
“Being in the final means growth for me personally. It means that in life you don’t have to give up. Of course, in life you will always have challenges. It will never be smooth sailing. It will be bumpy and rough. But situations like those prepare you for the difficulties ahead and you become a better person,” he says, referring to his ban from the game back in 2004 after he ‘tested positive’ for the banned substance Methyltestosterone. He served nine months after Chiefs fought his case against the initial two-year-ban.
He has long gotten over that experience and went on to play a starring role for Amakhosi until his retirement in 2009.
Now, he was a stand-in coach while new incumbent Stuart Baxter awaited his work permit and could well enter his name into Amakhosi folklore by helping lead the club to their maiden CAF Champions League title 20 years after he’d played a role in Chiefs capturing the CAF Cup Winners Cup.
Zwane is way too humble a man to see it as his glory though.
“I’ve learnt a lot working with Dillon Sheppard. Teamwork is the key to success. Gone are the days when you have a head coach and he works alone. Head coach is just a title. There are assistants and others like sports scientists and video analysts, and here we have Gerald Marsh and Mark Davie to complete the team.”
He says it was through teamwork that Chiefs managed to turn a seemingly wretched season around in just four matches to now stand on the cusp of what could well be their greatest campaign ever.
“We shared ideas, we looked at what we were not doing right and what could be the reason we were conceding a lot of goals when things were not going right. We only had a week to prepare for those two (league) games and then there would be two difficult (Champions League) games and the games for the careers of our life – we had to package our plan for four games and luckily the boys responded positively.”
It is through his willingness to learn from others, to not take short cuts and to be willing to put in the grind that Zwane finds himself on the verge of a glorious achievement.
“I’ve paid my dues, bhut’ omkhulu (big brother). I was never in a hurry. I took it one step at a time and gradually grew into where I am now. I was with the under 17s, under 19s and the reserve team and now I am the link between the development and the senior teams.”
Even though he is now with the senior team, Zwane knows he has not arrived yet.
“When the club approached me to work with the senior team, they wanted to fast-track me. But I said to them I don’t mind working with the first team but I still want to be part of the reserve team. I felt I still had to accomplish the mission. I am enjoying myself. For me, it is not always about working with the first team guys. If that time comes, it will be when I am ready. I don’t want to rush things. I don’t want to chase after things. I want things to come to me.
He believes the national senior team assistant coaching job that he held during Molefi Ntseki’s reign came to him.
“And I had to grab it with both hands, unfortunately things didn’t work out. But just to be there, I learnt a lot and now I am at a different level when it comes to understanding the game. And the club (Chiefs) has allowed me to uplift myself educationally. I’ve been to Ireland to do my Uefa B licence and I should have gone at the end of June to do my A licence there but due to Covid things didn’t happen. And I also have a CAF licence.”
Set to square up to Pitso Mosimane who, like him, was groomed at Jomo Cosmos, Zwane admits to seeing Jingles as an inspiration.
“I have so much respect for that grootman (big brother). He has opened doors for South African coaches. There can be no doubt about the fact that he has done wonders for us. His records and achievements speak for themselves. I really look up to him.”
Of course, he would love to be part of a technical team that gets one over the man he admires and is just chuffed that he will be part of an epoch event for South African football.
“It’s going to be a historic occasion because both benches will be teeming with South Africans.
“I’ve worked with KB (Kabelo Rangoaga, the fitness trainer who left for Ahly with Mosimane) at the senior national team and with coach Pitso in charge of Al Ahly – this is a South African final of sorts. We will not disappoint. I believe that as Kaizer Chiefs we have the quality players to win, sometimes it is about how we as coaches use them.”
For a man whose career could well have been ended by that ban back in 2004, Zwane is on the verge of an achievement that could well set him up for a brilliant coaching future.
And he’d be fully deserving of it, for the man has truly worked his way up the ladder – there were no short cuts.
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