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New Kaizer Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane, the man cut from a different cloth

Arthur Zwane,coach of Kaizer Chiefs during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on 8 May 2022. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Arthur Zwane,coach of Kaizer Chiefs during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on 8 May 2022. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published May 29, 2022

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Johannesburg - “I am always going to sweat blood for this club. I am going to dig deeper within myself to ensure that this club succeeds. I want to add value. I want to do something special. I owe much to this club.”

Such commitment. Such devotion. A rarity in this beautiful game called football. This, after all, is the sport in which coaches are generally treated as being no more useful than disposable razors. In return, the practitioners of the game’s most thankless task and loyalty are usually like the parallel lines of the railway destined never to meet.

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Arthur Zwane is cut from a different cloth though. And his elevation, on a three-year contract basis, to arguably the country’s hottest coaching seat was not surprising.

Mangethe is a Kaizer Chiefs man through and through, and as they seek to bring an end to an uncharacteristically long period of mediocrity, Amakhosi knew better than to install anyone else as project leader than the man whose nickname – 10111 – is apt for the mission.

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Making the announcement, Chiefs’ sporting director Kaizer Motaung Jnr said they needed ‘an individual who really understands KC philosophy and how to implement it’. After 22 years at the club in different roles, Zwane fits the bill perfectly.

Lest you think he was just being grateful for the opportunity, Zwane did not make the above declaration upon his appointment on Wednesday.

That quote was from a year ago prior to his being proverbially kicked in the gut by the club when they shunted him back to the assistant coaching role and gave Stuart Baxter the task of leading Chiefs in the Caf Champions League final after Zwane had been in charge in the semi-final.

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Yet, that move has not seen his commitment to the Amakhosi cause wavering as evidenced by him again standing in upon Baxter’s sacking late in the season that’s just ended.

That Zwane’s appointment is roundly being celebrated is because the move signals an exciting shift by the country’s big clubs.

In the past, the idea of a young local and black coach taking charge of a Chiefs or an Orlando Pirates and to some extent Mamelodi Sundowns was unthinkable.

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But now the country’s big three all have home-grown coaches leading their fortunes – the owners perhaps tired of spending millions on foreign white coaches without much success.

Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung who has previously been quoted as saying no ‘local coach is worthy of the Chiefs job’ is fully behind Zwane’s appointment and – according to the coach – has been instrumental in the former winger going this route upon his retirement in 2010.

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Granted Amakhosi have previously had a black local coach – Steve Komphela – in the modern era. But this is different. For, after all, Komphela had been around the block for a while, the former Chiefs captain having coached numerous clubs as well as the national teams.

In Zwane, it could well be said that Chiefs are taking a chance. At 48, he is young for a coach – the proponents of the trade generally being much older. He is untested as a head coach at senior level, Zwane having only fulfilled the role as a stop gap after others had been fired.

Bobby Motaung, Chiefs’ football manager, was quick to point out that the club is not taking a gamble: “Fortunately this is not a thumb suck. We are not taking a chance.

“This is a planned thing. It is a process that was well thought of. And with the support of the supporters, players and the entire team, Arthur will grow to become one of the iconic coaches in the country.”

For that to happen, Zwane must bring an end to an embarrassing seven-year trophy drought that has served to make a mockery of Chiefs’ alias as “Cup Kings” of the local game.

It is a monumental task for one so new to the job, his high qualifications Zwane has Uefa B and CAF A coaching licences – notwithstanding. And at a club with supporters as fickle as Amakhosi’s, the man from Meadowlands has another thing coming.

Incredibly though, Zwane appears to have the backing of the majority of the club’s supporters, if reaction to his appointment is anything to go by. And that support talks to a general mood in the football fraternity – fans are simply tired of seeing mediocre foreign coaches hopping from club to club while locals are kept out in the cold.

What is perhaps encouraging is the fact that the club owners responsible for importing the many physical trainers, train-ticket examiners and plumbers masquerading as coaches to our shores are finally beginning to see the light.

And they are not just handing the jobs to locals for the sake of it – they are hiring servants of the game who have earned their spurs through not only playing the game but getting their hands dirty in coaching at the lower level and arming themselves with the necessary qualifications.

Pitso Mosimane’s success no doubt has helped change the narrative for black local coaches, and with the likes of Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena following in his footsteps, there is every reason to believe that local could be lekker.

Chiefs believe so and in Arthur Zwane they have a coach whose loyalty to the Amakhosi cause cannot be faulted.

He has shown himself a decent coach working with their junior teams and while the jury is out on his capabilities at the highest level, the only way to find out is to throw him into the deep end as the club has done.

He has survived tougher challenges in his three decades in the game and with the kind of support he enjoys from the Motaung family and evidently the club’s millions of fans, Zwane should do a decent job of ‘bringing the glory days back’ to Chiefs.

His middle name is, after all, Jabulani – which means be happy. And how they’d love to see him making them happy.

“When I think of what this club, Kaizer Chiefs, has done for me, I know that it is high time I repaid them,” said Zwane.

@Tshiliboy

IOL Sport

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