'In football you develop a thick skin': Zwane on his future with Kaizer Chiefs
In 27 years in the Premier Soccer League, Kaizer Chiefs never lost more than 10 league matches in a season.
But in the 2022-2023 campaign that ended on Saturday, Arthur Zwane's charges didn't just break that record by one match when they lost 1-0 to SuperSport United in the penultimate round but extended it to 12 when Cape Town City beat Chiefs by the same margin at FNB Stadium.
With this terrible record still fresh in everyone's mind, Zwane was asked afterwards if he was confident he will keep his job at Naturena.
The way the coach attempted to answer that question seemed to bear similarities to the manner in which his team huffed and puffed all season.
The Chiefs coach noted his side showed some signs they “wanted to compete” and he correctly admitted they never did. Zwane pointed to the number of injuries Chiefs suffered, which is something that cannot earn a reprieve as it is a factor that affects all teams in any given season.
“It was not a good season.” 😶— SuperSport Football ⚽️ (@SSFootball) May 20, 2023
Arthur Zwane reflects on his first season as the Kaizer Chiefs coach and the psychological impact of losing to Pirates in the Nedbank Cup semi-final 💬
The excuses are untimely as they accompany Amakhosi completing an unprecedented eight seasons without a trophy.
In trying to answer whether his job was safe, Zwane waffled some mumbo jumbo that left his few guests in the post-match conference none the wiser.
But having endured a long debut season as a head coach, perhaps Zwane could be forgiven because the campaign might have left him extremely dazed and confused considering how he hardly had a good enough team to help him change Chiefs' fortunes.
“Look, I'm one person who is a believer and hard worker,” he said.
“If there's one thing football taught me it is never be in the game if you don't have a big heart. In football you develop a thick skin. I'm not the first coach that's been in this [under fire] situation.
“I've seen coaches struggling in their first season then they come up different in the following season. But as I said, it was more like a learning season for me for the fact of me being the head [coach], making decisions, obviously with the help of other technical team members.
Kaizer Chiefs v Cape Town City | Match in 5 Minutes | DStv Premiership
“But I've [previously] been a supporting member of the team, supporting other coaches who've been here before. This time around I had to do things the way I thought it would help the team.
“As much as it was a learning season, it was a very ... I would say, a productive one. In terms of learning that I should have done in [certain things] another way.
“That's the only way [you can learn], when you do an introspection. You always know that this is what you should have done here, going forward in terms of players that should come in.
“You'd also learn that this [player], maybe he's got talent but doesn't have the character and so now you look for a character more than the talent. I'm just making an example.
“For Chiefs you need players who can dig deeper because other teams double and triple their efforts when they play against Chiefs.
“The very same players that you sometimes want to bring to Chiefs do well against us. But when they come to Chiefs they're different players because they can't cope with the pressure and demands of playing for the team of Chiefs' calibre.”
Among factors Zwane pointed to as reasons for the poor season were injuries to players such as Khama Billiat, who came in as a substitute on Saturday but left the field a few minutes later injured again, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and Keagan Dolly.
“There were unforeseen circumstances that were beyond our control. That didn't allow us and the new players to settle. We would play two or three games and look good in what we're trying to do and then from there you lose about two players.
“This season you must have seen, injuries were too many. The performance was fluctuating. Those are part of the game, we understand and that's why we're here as coaches.”
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.