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News

Arthur Zwane on Chiefs star Nkosingiphile Ngcobo: ‘He is alive again’

Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Arthur Zwane was a famously slippery midfielder during his playing days and he showed he has lost none of his evasive talents when he dodged questions on the limited opportunities offered to talented Nkosingiphile Ngcobo by head coach Stuart Baxter this season.

Baxter has largely relegated Ngcobo to the sidelines during this campaign‚ but with the Briton confined to the sick bay because of the Covid-19 outbreak that almost brought Chiefs to its knees‚ Zwane was elevated to the head coach seat in his boss’ absence.

He wasted no time making his presence felt and made changes that contributed to the club’s comfortable 2-0 win against Sekhukhune United on Sunday evening. The most telling was the return of Ngcobo‚ who scored a superb long-range strike and engineered a second goal for Phathutshedzo Nange to secure the win.

Ngcobo has been the talk of the town since his eye catching display on Sunday and‚ when asked if he has more faith in the 22-year-old’s talents than Baxter‚ Zwane hardly missed a step as he replied.

“You know‚ sometimes in football‚ more especially when we are coming from a season that was tough for us‚ playing in the Caf Champions League‚ the domestic league and in cup games at the same time‚ so [Ngcobo]‚ Njabulo [Blom] and many other youngsters played a lot of games‚ and you could see them dropping a bit because of fatigue here and there.

“We had to manage him and you can see he is coming back‚ he is alive again and we are happy to see him‚ especially in this game showcasing his talent and performing like he did.”

Zwane insisted Baxter was part of the prematch conversation that saw Ngcobo and several other fringe players return to the line-up against Sekhukhune as Chiefs made the best of a desperate situation. The team scrambled to put together a match-day squad and honour their DStv Premiership fixture against Sekhukhune after Chiefs’ Naturena headquarters closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Chiefs‚ after writing to the Premier Soccer League asking for the postponement of four of their December league matches‚ were unable to honour their games against Cape Town City at FNB on Saturday and Lamontville Golden Arrows in Durban on Wednesday.

Zwane is likely to continue in his role as head coach for a while and said Baxter and other members of the technical team make a contribution to the team that eventually troops onto the pitch.

“We have technical staff‚ we work together‚ and unfortunately for coach Stuart he is recovering at home at the moment. As you know all of us were at home at some point and in isolation.

“Fortunately some of us were able to come back. We discussed [the line-up]‚ we have been preparing the team‚ all of us you know‚ because we are a team of technical staff members.”

Zwane said the plan came together against Sekhukhune as they wanted to dominate the visitors‚ even though some of the players were not back to full match fitness after being forced to isolate.

“It was always the plan for us to keep possession because we are a big team‚ and we need to dominate in all departments. We need to be able to keep the ball and attack at the right time.

“We knew the key for us was to manage the game‚ because the minute you try to play the ball forward it comes back quickly. Then chances are you have to start chasing the game and when you chase you become tired. And when it comes to physical capacity‚ they [Sekhukhune] were obviously ahead of us because they have been training and playing games.

“With us we had players who were about maybe at 20% fit for this game and we had to manage them.”

TimesLIVE

Source: ARENA Holdings.