Johannesburg – Arthur Zwane cut a confident figure ahead of his first game as Kaizer Chiefs coach, saying he’s ready to absorb the pressure that comes with the job.
Zwane was appointed as Chiefs head coach at the end of last season after the team endured a trophyless run under returning coach Stuart Baxter.
His job is cut out for him, given the fact that he’s not only required to return the club to the glory days, but has to re-implement Chiefs’ football philosophy as well.
In their rebuilding process, the management has backed Zwane by signing eight new players so far this winter.
These signings include Ashley du Preez, Zitha Kwinika, Kamohelo Mahlatsi and Dillan Solomons, a quartet that impressed at Stellenbosch and Swallows.
All eyes will be on Zwane when he takes charge of his first game of the season at Royal AM in the league at Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday.
Zwane has served in various roles during his 22 years at the club, including being an interim coach during the twilight of the last two seasons.
Zwane is not putting himself under unnecessary pressure though. Instead, he’s ready to weather the storms that will come his way.
“To be quite honest, I am enjoying myself. I was enjoying myself even when I was still with the reserve team,” Zwane told the media yesterday.
“Actually, there’s no rest when you are working for Kaizer Chiefs, especially when all eyes are on you.
“Win or lose, I’ll take criticism positively.”
Zwane’s appointment was made late in May. That has given him a full pre-season with the team as the new players blended with the old ones.
And that’s why the game away to Royal AM will be deemed as a scene setter of the season by many Chiefs supporters.
Zwane is ready to select his first starting line-up that will give the supporters a taste of what’s to come from the relatively youthful squad.
“I know that it hasn’t been easy in terms of selecting the team that will travel and do the job for us (in Durban),” the 48-year-old coach said.
“Each and every one pulled their weight and worked hard in ensuring that they are part of the squad that will travel to Durban and play Royal AM.
“I’ve got a very good headache because I’ll be selecting (the match day squad) from players that are willing to go out there and give their best.”
Zwane and his charges will be wary of the threat posed by Royal AM given that last season’s rookies completed a double over Amakhosi.
Royal AM have since bolstered their squad for what promises to be a tough season – they’ll compete in domestic and African football.
They have three new coaches and a host of new players, including Chiefs’ former striker Samir Nurkovic, who’ll miss tomorrow’s game due to an injury.
Dan Malesela, Abram Nteo (who was John Maduka’s assistant last season) and Khabo Zondo are the new co-coaches of Thwihli Thwahla.
“This time around we are playing against a team that we know very well,” said Zwane of their back-to-back league defeats to Royal AM last season.
“But they’ve got a new technical team and players as well. And that tells us that the approach is going to be totally different from what it was last term.”