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Arthur Zwane, wake up! You ARE under pressure at Kaizer Chiefs

10:15 PM GMT+4 20/01/2023
Arthur Zwane, Kaizer Chiefs
The Amakhosi boss’s comments ahead of the Mamelodi Sundowns game appeared out of touch

Perhaps Arthur Zwane was trying to convince himself with his calming comments ahead of this weekend’s meeting between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Perhaps he was trying to reassure himself that, despite the 1-0 defeat by Sekhukhune United, despite the 4-0 thumping by AmaZulu, he would still have the full confidence of the board at Naturena.

Perhaps he was trying to convey confidence to the club’s supporters that, even though recent results hadn’t been ideal, they were just a momentary blip amidst consistent progress under the rookie manager.

But the head coach’s comments suggest that he requires a wake-up call of his own.

“To be honest, I’m not worried,” he told journalists ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Sundowns, “because we have a plan at the club that needs to be executed.”

He then referenced Arsenal, who kept faith with Mikel Arteta, despite fan uncertainty at the Spanish head coach—and their failure to reach the Champions League last season—as evidence of what can be achieved if the club stick with him.

That may or may not be true, but what is certainly false is that Zwane is not under pressure.

Admittedly, the strongest teams on the continent would do well not to be defeated by Sundowns, standing imperious at the top of the PSL, but it’s Chiefs’ recent form that puts the head coach under pressure heading into this one.

No Chiefs head coach can lose to Sekhukhune United—minnows at this level—and expect not to have a few eyebrows raised in their direction.

No Chiefs head coach can get hammered by AmaZulu—4-0 no less—and not expect a few questions to emerge about their aptitude for the big job.

Lose against Sundowns, and it would be three PSL defeats in a row. When the Amakhosi lost three in a row last year, it was the first time in a decade—since April 2012—that that had happened.

It’s a rarity for a fanbase who enjoyed consistent success once upon a time, and certainly not something that Zwane would want on his record.

Plus, there are defeats and there are defeats.

If Chiefs lose nobly to Sundowns, perhaps the head coach would be insulated despite three consecutive losses.

If they’re battered, smashed, or completely outgunned by the Brazilians—the top scorers in the league, no less—then it will become increasingly difficult for Zwane to defend his work.

Zwane certainly is under pressure already—even if he doesn’t feel it—but a big loss, or maybe even any defeat, this weekend, and he’ll have no doubts as to the precariousness of his situation.