OPINION | Kaizer Chiefs need to give the job to Arthur Zwane
After another trophyless season and without a head coach, Kaizer Chiefs are at a crossroads.
For seven seasons Amakhosi have failed to win a major trophy as they continued to endure the pain of seeing bitter rivals Mamelodi Sundowns annex almost everything in their path domestically.
The last time Chiefs put their hands on silverware was when they won the 2014-2015 Premiership.
Since then Sundowns have lifted 12 league and cup trophies, including the 2016 Caf Champions League.
During this period of dominance the Brazilians also won the Caf Super Cup, six league titles, two Telkom Knockout trophies, and one each in the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup.
It may become 13 trophies on Saturday if Sundowns beat Marumo Gallants in the Nedbank Cup final at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Going into the off-season, Amakhosi’s management have much to ponder regarding the coaching position left vacant by the departure of Stuart Baxter last month.
They must also establish how many players, and which ones, are deemed surplus to requirements in a squad in serious need of rebuilding, and which players can arrive at Naturena to boost the team.
When it comes to who must coach the team into their rebuilding process, Chiefs’ solution may be hiding in plain sight.
If Kaizer Motaung were to solicit this reporter's advice on who should take over the reins, I would suggest to the chairman he be brave and shows faith in Baxter's main assistant, Arthur Zwane, who has shown the appetite for the job.
After the departure of Baxter, Zwane held the fort with fellow assistant Dillon Sheppard for seven matches with an underwhelming return of two wins, two draws and three defeats.
The team did not perform as expected under the caretaker coaches as they failed in their quest for a top three finish, but the reality is that significant damage was done under Baxter, who left many players demotivated.
It should be noted that earlier in the season Zwane took charge of three matches when Baxter was isolating due to Covid-19.
He earned wins over Sekhukhune United and Maritzburg United and a loss to Royal AM with a much-depleted team amid the Covid-19 outbreak at Naturena.
Motaung should also bring Chiefs' head of technical, former Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki, closer to the first team to offer support to Zwane and Sheppard.
The club should then rope in someone else to fill Ntseki's position.
Zwane, who has worked his way from the junior ranks, has passionately spoken about his love for the club.
He has been brutally honest in his assessment of the deep-rooted problems they must overcome to awaken the sleeping giant - something others vying for the coaching job at Chiefs might not have risked for fear of causing offence.
In his press conferences, Zwane has repeatedly spoken about the lack of quality at Naturena.
“Others might say I think I know too much or I am too harsh on players. But the reality we know is that we didn’t have good enough players to play for this team,” Zwane said after Chiefs' 2-2 draw with Swallows in their final league game at the weekend.
He has said for Chiefs to compete in the Champions League consistently, there have to be changes at Naturena.
Zwane seems the man best placed to start that revolution.
The ex-Chiefs winger is a student of the game, he knows club well, he knows the capacities of current players and has a sense which players could be lured to Naturena.
Though results were not what was expected, there were times in Chiefs's last seven matches where they played the enterprising football Zwane and the fans crave.
In the 1-1 draw against Sundowns, there were sustained periods where one could see Zwane’s influence as Chiefs matched the Brazilians in possession, passing and chances.
Despite the difference in quality and confidence, Chiefs' players played without fear, showed composure and displayed attacking zeal.
Giving Zwane an opportunity would be one commendable action taken by the club, but the other key element would be improving the squad with quality players.
In their match against Chiefs, Sundowns co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi, Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena left Lyle Lakay, Thabiso Kutumela, Teboho Mokoena, Neo Maema, Thapelo Morena and Gift Motupa on the bench.
Some of the players Zwane started with did not have the quality of those on Sundowns' bench.
It is clear Chiefs need to go to the transfer market.
After the game against Swallows, Zwane said even if money was no issue for Chiefs there are not many players available who are good enough to play for the club.
“It is going to be the biggest challenge for us to get everyone we need right now when you look at left-backs, central defenders, left-footed central defenders or strikers available.
“How many strikers do we have in the country who have scored more than [Sundowns'] Peter Shalulile? Can you get Shalulile from Sundowns? No. There is only one player who is trying and maybe that is [Chippa United's Cameroonian striker] Bienvenu Eva Nga, but is he a Kaizer Chiefs type of player we are looking for? It remains to be seen.
“Is [Royal AM striker] Victor Letsoalo the type of player who can play for Chiefs? The answer is, 'yes', but can we get him? Those are the challenges we are faced with and that is the reality.
“How many quality No 6s must come to Chiefs who we are going to have to develop because with the way we play we don’t want a No 6 who will get yellow and red cards? We want a ball player because we want to play from the back and we want to play with flair, we want to dominate.”
It is that kind of awareness of not just the level of player, but also the type of player, required to rebuild Chiefs within a culture that has been lost in recent years that makes the coach the club should be looking at someone who is already at Naturena. Zwane could rebuild Chiefs.
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