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’Kaizer Chiefs are still alive and kicking after a difficult year’, says Arthur Zwane

Nkosingiphile Ngcobo of Kaizer Chiefs celebrates scoring a goal with teammates against Maritzburg United. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Nkosingiphile Ngcobo of Kaizer Chiefs celebrates scoring a goal with teammates against Maritzburg United. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Dec 23, 2021

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Cape Town - Kaizer Chiefs' 2-0 win over Maritzburg United appeared to have taken a significant weight off the shoulders of Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Arthur Zwane.

In the absence of coach Stuart Baxter who is recovering from a pandemic infection, Zwane has been Chiefs' frontman and has taken plenty of stick for the team's erratic form. Over the weekend, he faced the media with a sense of helplessness after Chiefs suffered defeat against Royal AM.

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On Wednesday, it was a highly-relieved Zwane who was buoyed by the victory after answered goals by Khama Billiat and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo.

When he shared his post-match thoughts, it was clear the end-of-the-year of the break could not have come at a better time.

"It has been a difficult year for the club," said Zwane, who added the club will break for the holidays and return for the second half of the season next year.

ALSO READ: Kaizer Chiefs will look to end their annus horribilis by beating Maritzburg United

"It's been tough. It was a year that started when we went to the final of the Champions League.

"After that, games came quick and fast. We had to play games domestically and travel into Africa.

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"It was very tough, and Covid did not make our lives any easier.

"We have been through situations where we did not know if we were coming or going. By the grace of God, we are still alive and kicking."

Nkosingiphile Ngcobo's profile continues to grow at Chiefs, and this time he was used as an impact player off the bench. Many fans have taken to social media to say he should be a fixture in the run-on XI.

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“A player of Nkosingiphile Ngcobo’s calibre is such that you only use him when he is needed," said Zwane.

"He is not a player that fights for the ball or has that energy to fight for the ball. We also use him depending on the approach of the opposition.

“He is more of a thinker and more of a playmaker. Today we needed him, and he came to the party. He gave us that security goal.

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ALSO READ: PSL declines request by Covid-hit Kaizer Chiefs to postpone their December games

"He is a player who can swing the game in your favour with his game intelligence. He is a smart player.

"We knew that if he started this game, he wasn’t going to be effective. We left him on the bench knowing that he can be one of our impact players."

Maritzburg enjoyed slightly more possession and managed long spells in the striking zone without success.

They were ahead 10-2 in the corner count, and it tells a story of the pressure they exerted on Chiefs' defence.

Zwane said Billiat's opening goal helped to settle the side after Maritzburg held the upper hand at the start.

"Maritzburg's approach was exactly what we planned for, and that is why we managed to deal with it," said Zwane. "We started very slow, and for about 20 minutes, they were on top of us.

"We needed to get that goal to break the ice, and then we settled down. As soon we were settled, we started playing better because we wanted to keep the ball.

ALSO READ: 2021 was actually a good year for Kaizer Chiefs

"When we keep the ball and choose the right moment to attack, and Khama was availing himself.

“Phathu (Phathutshedzo Nange) in midfield was a bit flat and playing in patches. Whenever he was on the ball, we always knew that he would give us something. It was good that we went into half-time leading 1-0.

"The second half we also started slow again, which was worrying. After they missed a scoring chance - they hit the upright, and that was a wake-up call.

"The boys started playing again and we started creating chances. Afterwards, we managed to get the second goal."

It was Chiefs' final game for 2021 and will resume their league programme next after the Africa Cup of Nations, with an away match on 15 February 2021 against Cape Town City.

@Herman_Gibbs

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