Perfectionist Mandla Ncikazi asks for high-flying Arrows to aim even higher
Lamontville Golden Arrows are in second place in the DStv Premiership and have scored the joint-most goals‚ but coach Mandla Ncikazi has said he would like his team to come back from the Fifa international date scoring more and conceding less.
Arrows are in their highest position at this stage of a Premiership season‚ and their 30 goals scored are equalled just by seventh-placed Cape Town City as‚ with 10 matches left‚ the Durban team look set to streak past their best finishes of fifth in 2002-03 and 2008-09.
But Ncikazi‚ in his first season as a full-time head coach having been handed various stints at clubs as a caretaker where he seldom was given the time needed to establish himself‚ has displayed a perfectionist’s streak saying he wants more.
The coach said he hopes to work on being more clinical in front of goal‚ and also tightening up a defence that has conceded 10 goals more than leaders Mamelodi Sundowns‚ though an also far from substandard 19.
Ncikazi admitted the Fifa break comes as a double-edged sword to Arrows‚ as it breaks the momentum of a run of 14 league matches with just two defeats‚ eight of those wins and four draws‚ but also allows Abafana Bes’thende room to perhaps get some returning players match fit.
“We also welcome the break – we needed to rehabilitate some players so that they can be ready for a tight schedule that is coming‚” the 52-year-old coach said.
“On the other side you don’t want to lose the momentum and the rhythm of playing the way we have been playing. So for us‚ it’s bittersweet.
“There are aspects in our game that we must improve. We are not as clinical [as we should be] in front of goal. For the number of chances that we create I think we should be scoring more.
“We do also appreciate that the team are the best scorers currently‚ along with Cape Town City‚ on 30 goals.
“We would love to decrease a bit in conceding. If we are No.1 in scoring we would love to be No.1 defensively.
“[At the same time] appreciating the effort of the players with what they have done. They have been wonderful and exceptional in everything that they are doing.”
Ncikazi is reluctant to place a target on where he thinks Arrows should finish come May.
“I normally don’t put pressure in the team in where I want to see the team competing this season. I take everything as it happens‚” he said.
“Firstly we avoided relegation based mathematically on the points we have. The next step is to try and work towards the top eight.
“When we are guaranteed the top eight‚ then we will start looking for positions of how high we can finish within the top eight.
“I’m not even looking further than that. If the points that we have gathered give us the leverage of playing for any competition then we will welcome that as a club.
“We don’t want to change our goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season. Too much expectation can create disappointment and we don’t want to do that to our players – I think it would be unfair.”
Arrows return from the break against early pacesetters Swallows FC‚ who have sagged to sixth place on the back of eight league matches without a win‚ at Dobsonville Stadium next Sunday (April 3).