OPINION | Chiefs made a brave choice in Zwane. Now they need to have his back
Arthur Zwane has all the ingredients for the Chiefs’ hot seat, but he’ll also need time to grow into the job
Kaizer Chiefs did the right thing, and the brave thing, appointing Arthur Zwane as head coach.
Now Chiefs have to keep their heads and stay the course. The supporters of the once-great trophy-winning brand, steeped in gold, are exhausted by halfhearted rebuilding and on-field embarrassment. They want results and trophies.
It was these external demands, also felt internally at Naturena, that prompted the hiring of quick-fix, results-orientated coaches who openly had always prioritised winning over aesthetics and any sort of prized style of play. That was a significant departure for a brand built on style and the beautiful football of the club’s origins in the 1970s and glorious 1980s and early 1990s. It smacked of desperation. And in the end Ernst Middendorp, Gavin Hunt and Stuart Baxter did not play pleasing football, and did not deliver results, so Chiefs got neither.
Zwane has carefully auditioned for the post with his public acknowledgment that Chiefs first lost their way, abandoning pleasing football that should also bring results. The best teams build from the back. The most effective football, though harder to attain, is attractive football of patient build-ups.
Zwane has carefully auditioned for the post with his public acknowledgment that Chiefs first lost their way, abandoning pleasing football that should also bring results.
Zwane’s confident pronouncements — which many more senior than him in the Chiefs hot seat were not brave enough, or just too diplomatic, to point out — that Chiefs have not brought in a good enough standard of player, appear to have impressed the club. Importantly, he seems on the same page with sporting director and heir apparent to father and chair Kaizer Motaung’s throne, prince regent Kaizer Motaung Jr, with his views.
The two were teammates for almost a decade at Amakhosi — stylish winger Zwane’s career in gold was from 2000 to 2010, striker Motaung Jr’s from 2003 to 2014. It’s an understanding and partnership that both, as they start out in senior roles, will hope can be mutually beneficial. They will have each other’s backs. Motaung Jr — seemingly the influential management member, with head of technical Molefi Ntseki, pushing for Zwane’s appointment — will hope the decision pays dividends to help consolidate his new position of authority.
At 48, having played a key role as a dynamic, disciplinarian influence in Chiefs’ youth structures as the Under-17 coach who sourced a number of strong players into the revamped academy launched in 2014, and having shown potential as senior assistant and caretaker coach, Zwane deserves his shot at the top job.
The difficulty for Chiefs is he will need time to grow into it, and the fans are fresh out of patience. Zwane will certainly need the sort of signings he and Motaung Jr have been advocating for if he is to bring cup silverware, challenge for league honours, and keep his immense popularity with the supporters intact.
With support, genuine money spent on players and some time, the bright young duo of Zwane and his assistant Dillon Sheppard can energise Amakhosi. It’s long overdue that someone does.