‘Big Interview’: Mandla Ncikazi

2015-07-23 06:01
PHOTO: backpage pix

New Maritzburg United coach Mandla Ncikazi.

PHOTO: backpage pix New Maritzburg United coach Mandla Ncikazi.

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WITH the new season just a few weeks away, PSL.co.za returns with its weekly Big Interview featuring some of the biggest news makers in South African football.

They start the new season with a man, who was in many ways, unexpected to be in his position, the heralded Maritzburg United coach Mandla Ncikazi.

The 46-year-old was a surprise choice by the Team of Choice, signing a two-year deal to fill the big boots of Steve Komphela after he departed for Kaizer Chiefs.

PSL.co.za caught up with him to find out a more about who the new Maritzburg coach really is.

PSL.co.za: Congratulations firstly on the appointment. Can you give us a bit of background on yourself?

Mandla Ncikazi (MN): “I come from Hlokozi, a rural area not very far from Pietermaritzburg. I played professional football for African Wanderers and AmaZulu, before an Achilles tendon injury ended my career around 2000. I then went into coaching and worked professionally at many clubs, including Wanderers and Durban Stars where I was assistant to Fani Madida. In the PSL, I served under Manqoba Mngqithi at Lamontville Golden Arrows, I worked for Duncan Lechesa at Polokwane City and was also understudy to Komphela at Free State Stars and Maritzburg United. I also was once an assistant coach for Banyana Banyana and had a brief stint as head coach of Nathi Lions.”

PSL.co.za: You have come in to replace Steve Komphela, someone you were understudy to for the past 18 months. Were you as surprised as us in the media about the appointment?

MN: “When I was first told about it, I was extremely excited, but I had to cut my joy very short because when you sit down and look at the task in front of you, it’s a big one because pre-season had already started. So it was a very proud moment and that was my initial reaction.”

PSL.co.za: You beat many high-profiles to the post, world-renowned figures like Dutchman Mark Wotte and Brazilian Julio Leal. Is it fitting that the club chose you?

MN: “It’s a really rare opportunity to be given to assistant coaches. Normally a club prefers someone from outside. It doesn’t often happen that someone from within gets such a job because we have a lot of challenges. The main one being that people you are working with in the industry only see you as an assistant. Now you have to elevate yourself, look at them differently, behave differently, they see you differently, so it’s always a challenge.”

PSL.co.za: Maritzburg had a historic season last season finishing in the top eight for the first time. Now that you are the boss, what do you want to change and will you do it?

MN: “If the structure of the club did not change, the methodology does not change. We have kept most of the personnel that took us to number eight last season, so we should be good to go.”

PSL.co.za: How different is your footballing philosophy to that of Steve Komphela?

MN: “We share the same vision and philosophy, so not much is going to change. But obviously I’m not going to try to be like Steve. If I do, I will be setting myself up for failure.”

PSL.co.za: Finally, you have a tough act to follow in Mr Komphela. Are you ready for it?

MN: “If you pray for rain, it goes with mud. And you must carry the umbrella. I’m in that mode that I know what comes with the job. I know the pressure, I’m prepared not to sleep, I’m prepared to do everything that is required to make a success of this chance. There’s pressure all around you in life, you just have to embrace it.”– PSL news

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