Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs this week announced former player and legend, Arthur ‘10111’ Zwane as the head coach and Dillon Sheppard as his assistant on a three-year contract.
The news was welcomed with mixed emotions by the AmaKhosi faithful with some backing the Motaung family in their latest hire, and some questioning the experience of the duo who took over when Stuart Baxter was let go.
One word that was commonly used during the press conference on Wednesday morning was ‘football trends’. Kaizer Chiefs has long been stuck with the old PSL philosophy of recycling European coaches.
The only team that has shunned this practice and remained successful has been Mamelodi Sundowns who have been the team to beat since hiring Pitso Mosimane who’s now a respected coach internationally, and later replacing him with the famous trio of Manqoba Mngqithi, Rulani Mokwena and Steven Komphela who has a deep knowledge of South African football.
Kaizer Chiefs’ first real attempt at ‘going local’ was with Komphela, who was in charge of the Glamour Boys between June 2015 and April 2018 when he resigned following the club’s exit from the Nedbank Cup.
Expectations around Komphela were high back then because he was Baxter’s replacement, who had won the league. Expectations are high for every coach that joins Chiefs.
However, most have underachieved. Things didn’t tend to end well for those coaches, as we saw how the cookie crumbled for Komphela.
Gavin Hunt was met with the same fate last season, albeit taking on the job while Chiefs was going through a FIFA ban on transfers. Hunt managed to take AmaKhosi to the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League (CAFCL) before he was dismissed due to poor results in the league.
Arthur Zwane was handed the duty of being in charge of the team at an interim level, after helping Chiefs make it to the final of the CAFCL, management decided to put Baxter in charge with immediate effect.
This decision would prove costly to Chiefs as they were thoroughly beaten by Al Ahly in the CAFCL final, even though the odds were against them winning it. It was the manner of the loss that irked many, with Chiefs only managing to register three shots (one on target) during the entire game.
It didn’t feel like the team was playing in a final. I’m willing to go as far as saying the final between Chiefs and Al Ahly last year almost felt like an exhibition game with the Mosimane-led Egyptians hardly getting out of second gear to claim their 10th title.
Before Hunt, Chiefs came close to ending their long trophy drought with Ernst Midderndorp at the helm. Chiefs last won the league in 2014/2015 (with Stuart Baxter), after that Mazinyo almost broke the trophy drought attempting to win his first league title (on his second stint with Chiefs) during the 2019/2020 season.
In my opinion, the league was lost when Chiefs decided not to extend the contract of a key player that season; George Maluleke, who joined Sundowns and won the league with them by two points.
The decision to let Middendorp go was a weird one seeing as he had guided the team to their best finish in a campaign since they last won the league. Footballing wise though, there was always a question about the brand of football the German opted for.
It must be mentioned however that Midderndorp was roped in to replace Giovanni Solinas, who was a disaster in his short stay. The Italian tactician was dismissed after leading the team to a mere 18 points after 14 games during the 2018/2019 season. Chiefs finished ninth that season.
The appointment of Arthur Zwane as the head coach means Kaizer Chiefs is now serious about giving a local coach a chance, one that has served the club well both on and off the field.
The co-coaches at Orlando Pirates; Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids have done well this season reaching the CAF Confederations Cup final, and they also have an opportunity of playing in the CAFCL next season if they win the two games they have left this season.
Other local coaches that have done well this season include Steve Barker at Stellenbosch, and Eric Tinkler at Cape Town City FC.
Mangethe (Zwane) has been a huge part of youngsters coming through Chiefs’ reserve team; the likes of Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Siyabonga Ngezana, and Happy Mashiane.
It is only logical that the team continues with him in charge so these players are given appropriate time to grow with the first team and learn the Kaizer Chiefs way on and off the field.
Many will question his record after he was given the reins with Shepard to lead the team after Baxter was fired. While results haven’t been great, many will agree Abafana Bokuthula Noxolo have played football going forward and defensively.
With the backing of supporters, management, and his players the only way should be up for Zwane, but this is football… (as Pitso would say)
There’s a huge pre-season job ahead of Chiefs with Zwane looking to get rid of deadwood and bring in players that will buy into his philosophy.