While Arthur Zwane was still addressing a packed press conference at the FNB Stadium on Thursday following his appointment as Kaizer Chiefs head coach on a permanent basis, some were already questioning his elevation to one of the biggest coaching jobs in Africa.
The prophets of doom, mainly on social media, view the move as a bit too early for the 48-year-old tactician from Soweto who has mostly served as an assistant coach for the past few seasons.
They say Zwane will buckle under pressure and be overwhelmed by the expectations to deliver the first piece of silverware for the Amakhosi after seven barren years.
But “10111”, as Zwane was known during his playing days, had a message for those who cast doubt on his capabilities. After all, his promotion to the hot seat has been roundly hailed by the club’s hierarchy as empowering deserving local coaches.
“As a coach you are as good as your last game and I think I understand pressure. I’ve been under pressure ever since I was a player and being criticised. I think those are some of the things that made me the person I am today,” said Zwane during his official unveiling on Thursday.
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To mark the start of his three-year mandate Zwane, who is always seen in tracksuits as assistant coach, was dressed for the occasion in a black suit with a striped black and gold tie on a white shirt.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and waiting for criticism from the people obviously, whether we are doing well or winning games.
“There’s many other coaches who were here in the past and did well in terms of results but things didn’t go accordingly. It’s part of the game. We’re looking forward to the new season.”
Zwane has a Uefa B coaching licence acquired in Ireland, as well as the CAF A and B badges.
Dillon Sheppard, who was in the same Uefa B course with Zwane, will carry on as his assistant. Sheppard urged the Amakhosi supporters to give them a chance to prove themselves.
“There’s always going to be negativity. We speak about building our own [coaches in South Africa],” said Sheppard.
“Yes, it is a huge responsibility to coach a big club but this is what we have been preparing for. We’ve done it with the youth and came through the development ranks and now we got the opportunity [in the senior team]. There’s always going to be noise out there with people underestimating us but the most important thing is our plan,” Shepherd said.
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“This is something that has been put in place and we have the opportunity now to prove that we are good enough where we are. As long as we put the right structure in place, with the right planning, I think moving forward it would be a lot easier.
“We’re going to be criticised. That’s normal. But we also got to a bit strong and stick to our belief because that’s very important.”