Ayanda Dlamini and Fohloza makes formidable duoThomas Kwenaite
By Andile Dladla and Mandla Dladla
A look at the DStv Premiership benches indicates that most teams are led by former players who seems to be delivering on the mandates given to them by management.
It is always pleasing to see former players being given the opportunity to take charge and getting involved in the development of local football while following their dreams at the end of their playing careers.
One such legend is former Amazulu FC striker Ayanda Dlamini, the man who was popularly known as “Cobra” and who believes it was always predicted by others that he was destined to become a coach one day.
“Playing for Amazulu from 2009 – 2016 really changed my life a lot as a person and as a professional football player,” says Dlamini.
“I was just a boy coming from the rural areas of KZN and when Amazulu FC discovered me under then coach Neil Tovey, it was a dream come true for me and my family.
“There are a lot of talented youngsters out there. However, it is not everybody that gets the opportunity to play professional football and never took my opportunity for granted.”
Dlamini admits that hailing from the rural areas, it was not going to be easy to crack it, particularly when one considered that he was only discovered when we he was already 25-years old.
He feels that due to his geographical background, he was never exposed to proper formal development like most youngsters in urban areas otherwise he could have achieved even better at professional level.
“It is for this reason that I urge youngsters to focus on their dream and work very hard towards what they want to achieve. Stay focused at all times because the opportunity might arrive at any given time.
“Take instructions from the coaches but also remember that you don’t only depend on the coaches because extra individual sessions as a striker where you do your drills and perfecting your finishing is important so that when it comes to the games it becomes second nature scoring goals.”
In 2016 Dlamini went on to play for the now defunct Bloemfontein Celtics for one season only and that is where he picked up a very bad knee injury.
“I decided to come back to Durban to recuperate and it was very easy for me to go back to Amazulu management to discuss the possibility of working in their development structures so that I could sharpen my skills, at the same time learn and acquire coaching badges to empower myself.
“They gave me that opportunity and that’s where it started. I remember while I was still playing, a lot of people said the way I was leading the team as captain, it showed that I would have a future in coaching when I retired.
“Hence I took that opportunity seriously because I could see that even when I was in the development structures, people at Amazulu were always telling me that I had a bright career in coaching, urging me to take it serious.
“I started coaching the U-19’s in the SAB league and then moved to coach the reserve side in the DStv Diski Challenge.
“I really enjoyed it and the team did extremely well while I was busy with my badges and I was called up to assist in the first team under then head coach Josef Vukusic from Slovakia.”
When the team suspended him with a huge fixture against Kaizer Chiefs looming, management appointed Dlamini as head coach to lead the team against Amakhosi.
“At that moment we were rock bottom on 16th position and Kaizer Chiefs were on top. It is now history that we beat Chiefs on that day when no one gave us a chance at FNB Stadium back in 2019 just prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and that was the highlight of my coaching career.
Dlamini never looked back and once action resumed under the bio-bubble, he managed to haul the team out of the relegation quagmire and pulled them to safety where they finished at position 13th.
But the victory over Kaizer Chiefs was the turning point as it also signalled the first time that AmaZulu had defeated Chiefs in over 13 years.
When the Zungu family took over from the Sokhela family, first it was legendary Benni McCarthy, followed by Brendan Truter as head coaches and currently I’m serving as assistant to Romain Folz.
“Folz is a very good guy and a good coach. I am working well with him and we have a very good relationship.
“He is an open minded and listens to everyone’s opinions. We discuss things openly around the table with him before we go to the players.”
Dlamini revealed that management wants the team to go back to the CAF Champions league or Confederation Cup and that’s the goal they are working towards achieving by finishing among the top three.
“I think for now everything is going our way, we have prepared the team well during the December break due to the World Cup in Qatar and we see things going in the right direction now.”