Rebuilding, that is the buzz word for Kaizer Chiefs at the moment.
After nineteen games, Amakhosi are currently fourth on the log with 28 points. They have won eight matches, drawn four and lost seven. They have scored twenty goals and conceded twenty-one.
If this was any other team, the above stats would not be alarming, but this is Kaizer Chiefs, the undisputed giants of South African football.
While Coach Arthur Zwane might be forgiven for the current state of the club, in the name of respecting the rebuilding process, or ‘recovery process’ as sporting director Kaizer Motaung Jr calls it, we need to look at the foundations he is building on. Are they strong enough? Let us delve deep into it.
Zwane is caught between two contrasting realities.
Reversing seven years of constant damage is no child’s play, and it definitely doesn’t take a season to fix.
Too many mistakes have happened at Kaizer Chiefs, including poor recruitment, coaching appointments and more.
Over the years, the club has lost its identity on the field of play, with their winning culture becoming non-existent. Taking Kaizer Chiefs back to its glory days will require a lot of patience, proper planning and restructuring. That is reality number one, which means Kaizer Chiefs fans will have to be patient with Zwane.
The second reality is that Zwane has been with Amakhosi for ages. He is aware of the club’s shortcomings, and should be able to navigate this ‘recovery process’ much easier than a complete outsider would have done.
This second reality puts him in a difficult situation. It means fans expect him to be able to turn things around in a very short space of time.
And the latter is the reality that Zwane finds himself in than the former. Kaizer Chiefs fans want to see improvements, and they want to see them as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, that is not the case at the moment, as things stand, Amakhosi might have to endure another season without a trophy, even a CAF spot might not happen for Chiefs.
But are there any signs of improvement?
It is difficult to see improvements with Kaizer Chiefs at the moment.
The team is inconsistent in their performances. If they are not missing goal-scoring opportunities, they are giving away silly goals, as their negative goal difference shows.
There is no noticeable steady progress, which is a factor that works against Arthur Zwane.
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How about the quality of his squad?
The honest truth is that Zwane doesn’t really have enough quality in his squad, except maybe for Sifiso Hlanti, Keagan Dolly, and to a certain extent, Itumeleng Khune.
The other quality player, who is unfortunately hampered by injuries and struggles with form, is Khama Billiat, the rest of the Kaizer Chiefs team are average players, no malice intended.
How about his tactics? Is ‘Mangethe ball’ ball the way to go?
Tactically, Zwane’s tactics are not bad.
He plays according to the strengths of his players. The Kaizer Chiefs team is full of speedy wingers and full-backs, which is a factor that guides Zwane’s tactics.
Their downfall is the lack of dynamic and creative footballers in the final third, who can vary the tempo of their offensive play, while providing creative solutions to create good scoring opportunities.
What does the management say about Zwane?
Kaizer Chiefs sporting director, Kaizer Motaung Jr, has been calling for patience with their head coach.
“We have to be realistic, we understand what happened in the last seven years, we now find ourselves with a coach who deeply understands the football culture of the team, who deeply understands the needs of an African player. We do ask the Khosi nation to have tremendous amount of patience with this team and they need the tremendous amount of support. Mangethe needs our support, our prayers and of course our patience,” Motaung Jr told SAfm last year in August, when Amakhosi fans were calling for Zwane’s head to roll.
“We have to look at the age of the squad and our projections, we’re in the recovery phase and not the rebuilding phase. We’ve began to fix things at the far page looking at recruitment side of the team, physicality of the team, filings of the team, the play philosophy and the patterns of the play and also development.”
“We know this club is known for winning, we haven’t lost our mind, that’s our focus. We have the timelines of what we want to achieve. It will take time to get there. We won’t wait 10 years. We are going to wait to do our best in the moment of time. We need patience and support.”
So! What do the results of Zwane’s report say?
Considering the quality of his squad, and the mess he inherited, it would be unfair to judge him based on this season.
Let him have another season, let him get quality players to mix with the talented youngsters like Shabalala, Zwane, and Duba.
If no tangible improvements happen after that, Arthur Zwane will have to accept that Amakhosi are too big for his shoulders, and move on.