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OPINION: Who will be the next head coach of AmaZulu Football Club?

On the 25th of March, AmaZulu FC parted ways with Benni McCarthy. An interim appointment was announced just two days later (27th March) that Brandon Truter would take the reins at AmaZulu until the end of the 2021/22 season with eight fixtures remaining.

Brandon Truter of AmaZulu
Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

In AmaZulu’s announcement, they addressed that the search for the head coach has already commenced and should be finalised before the end of April.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

President Sandile Zungu said in his announcement via social media, “It is true that from today (March 25, 2022), Benni McCarthy and AmaZulu Football Club parted ways. We parted ways on an amicable basis.

“It is known, the role that Benni McCarthy played in taking AmaZulu from above relegation zone to finishing top two last season, and effectively competing in the CAF Champions League, including the group stages.

“It is a highly commendable effort and at AmaZulu Football Club we are very grateful, and on that basis, we wish Benni McCarthy the best in his future endeavours.

“But it is quite clear that the team needed change, and that change needed to happen, now…”

AmaZulu have had a few household names at the helm of the KZN based football club. From legends like Clive Barker to Mzansi faces we all recognize in Neil Tovey, Manqoba Mngqithi, Steve Barker and Cavin Johnson to name a few. Non, however, took the club to heights that Benni McCarthy was able to, which I believe he would not have achieved without the help and ambition of new Zungu family ownership.

The 2020/21 season finishing in the top two of the Premier Soccer League was unprecedented. Usuthu has always been performing as a mid to lower end table side. The season was followed up by progressing through preliminary rounds of the CAF Champions League, coupled with a good account of themselves during the group stages. The most recent moment of glory for AmaZulu was over a decade ago, finishing runners up in the 2009/10 Nedbank Cup, losing 3-0 to Bidvest Wits.

The ambition for AmaZulu is tangible and while many may not agree or even like the decision to part ways with 2020/21 DStv Premiership Coach of the Season, Benni, a new decision must be made.

In my opinion, AmaZulu need a coach who has a long-term plan in mind first and foremost. Considering the budget isn’t up there with the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs the structure from academy to Diski Challenge boys, and then first-team needs to be seamless. Identifying players to slot into a system that has been implemented over two or three years is crucial, and finally, it has to be a person the fans appreciate and identify with who can bring unity as well as have the ability to grow the fanbase, establishing AmaZulu up among the powerhouses of South African Football.

My top three coaches I believe could maintain the higher level and ambition the Zungu family desire within AmaZulu FC – in no particular order are:

Manqoba Mngithi

Coach Manqoba Mngithi understands the Kwa-Zulu Natal football scene having coached both Lamontville Golden Arrows and AmaZulu FC, as well as being a success story out of Umzimkhulu, KZN. The fans can easily get behind a local figure, not to mention the stature he has built for himself over recent years. He has a higher technical understanding of the game as we have all witnessed with the dominance of Mamelodi Sundowns in his time under coach Pitso Mosimane, and more so as one of the so-called “three wise men” alongside Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela. The ambitions of the Zungu family should slot perfectly into the professionalism and level of football knowledge Manqoba brings to the table.

Brandon Truter

The obvious one has to be coach Brandon Truter extending his deal with AmaZulu. The former Swallows coach was announced on the 27th of March with eight fixtures remaining for Usuthu. Brandon as yet to lose a fixture at the helm drawing his first match abroad 1-1 with Horoya, followed by three wins and two draws which included a win over his former employers at Dobsonville Stadium. While the former relationship with Swallows management ended sour and has resulted in some PR nightmares for AmaZulu, there is no denying Truter’s ability to get the job done on the field. It would be a smooth and seamless process; Truter has a feel for how things are run and should be planned to go forward. His results yielded to date are all in his favour with AmaZulu sitting seventh on 41 points and with a huge possibility of finishing higher up the table should they win both fixtures against Cape Town City (away) and Golden Arrows (home).

Gavin Hunt

A big name, with all the know-how, having one last crack at his ability to manage a team to success has to be Gavin Hunt. Hunt is the second most successful coach in the PSL after Pitso Mosimane and having that calibre of coach will come at a cost. However, if you consider Hunt’s success with Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United, the club relied on a similar financial backing. He has the winning know-how, demands respect in the local scene, and has proved his ability to grow a team from the ground up. AmaZulu can use his notoriety in the push to grow the fanbase. The big selling point for all involved has to be Gavin being currently out of a job and needing one final hoorah, and where better to get involved than at a club similar to those that put you “on the map”.

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