Chiefs coach Zwane defends Ngcobo: ‘I believe he was upset with himself’
Kaizer Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane has defended his centreback Njabulo Ngcobo for a tantrum that followed the player's substitution in Amakhosi's 2-1 DStv Premiership defeat to Lamontville Golden Arrows in Durban on Wednesday.
Ngcobo appeared low on confidence and made the costly error with a stray pass that led to Arrows substitute Siboniso Conco's 60th-minute equaliser. Moments later he gave the ball away again, leading to Saziso Magawana curling an effort past the left upright.
Chiefs' co-coaches Zwane and Dillon Sheppard took the defender off, replacing Ngcobo with Daniel Cardoso in the 73rd.
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Ngcobo appeared unhappy with the decision, and seemed to shy away from Zwane's offer of a handshake as he came off. Goalkeeper-coach Lee Baxter angrily remonstrated with Ngcobo. After that the player angrily gesticulated and was calmed by teammates.
Ngcobo has come in for criticism on social media, but Zwane felt the defender actually was angry at himself for his mistakes, and the situation got out of hand.
“I believe Njabulo maybe was a bit upset at himself,” Zwane said.
“He gave the ball away in the wrong areas and we were punished. I don't view it as something where other people may see it as bad.
Njabulo Ngcobo Fight With Lee Baxter 😳 #kaizerchiefs #dstvprem
“I don't see it that way. I was a player myself, so I believe he was upset with himself.
“We feel he could have done better. Because we have said you don't play the ball back — try to play the ball forward. Or he was trying to play it short and couldn't see the danger, and we go punished for it.
“As a player you can do that — that's football. Football is a game of mistakes, and a game that teaches us to be better.
“As much as I expected him to do better that was his decision at the end of the day. But we learn from it, and we move on.”
It was not the best defensive afternoon all-round for Chiefs. They conceded Michael Boy Gumede's 86th-minute winner for Arrows softly from a near-post header from a free-kick.
Zwane said Chiefs panicked rather than calmly pressing home the advantage of their 1-0 lead that came from Khama Billiat's 18th-minute strike.
“I'm obviously disappointed. We were in control of the game,” the coach said.
“And then in the second half we decided to give goals away cheaply. With a bit of character it would have been a different story. Arrows didn't pose so much of a threat for us to panic the way we did.
“With the dead-ball situation where we conceded, a player just went through them, diving header, and no-one moved.
“We learn from these mistakes. Maybe going forward the players will react differently.”
Chiefs' co-coaches have suffered two defeats since head coach Stuart Baxter's exit last week, the Arrows result following a 1-0 loss against SuperSport United at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
With matches coming thick and fast, Zwane and Sheppard have had precious little time to implement the more creative style of play they are aiming for in just a few training sessions.
They have limited time again to prepare for Saturday's Premiership match against Cape Town City at FNB Stadium (3pm), a game in doubt as the Citizens have threatened to boycott it.
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