Mandla Ncikazi Golden Arrows: 5 Records To Remember Him By
By Carl Lewis
Golden Arrows announced they had reached an agreement to part ways with coach Mandla Ncikazi on Wednesday night. This has been widely received as a surprising move, given the season the club had just enjoyed. With the PSL transfer window approaching, rumours of players moving from one club to another are usually the main headlines.
But the departure of a coach, in particular one that finished fourth in the league, was very unexpected. We dug through the numbers to help summarise Ncikazi’s impressive short stint as head coach at Arrows, with five records he will be remembered by.
1. Win Rate
Mandla Ncikazi is not new to the Arrows set-up, having spent 15+ years at the club in the youth and first-team structures. Promoted after Steve Komphela left for Sundowns, he became the 16th coach to sit on the Golden Arrows dugout in the PSL era. Not only that, he was also the 12th local coach, cementing the club’s reputation for giving local coaches an opportunity at the highest level. Yet, it’s not his nationality that stands out:
37% – Of all the Arrows coaches to oversee at least 30 league games for the club in the PSL era, Mandla Ncikazi had the highest win ratio (37%).
2. Finishing Position
Arrows finished 4th at the end of the season, narrowly missing out on CAF football. The fact that this was even considered a disappointment by some shows how far his side have come. When Arrows won against Stellenbosch in February, they set a new record for most points won by the club at the half-way stage of a PSL season (28). Yet, the second half of the season was a bit underwhelming, with Arrows winning just four of their 15 games.
4 – Arrows finished the season in fourth spot, their highest ever league finish in the PSL era.
3. Fewest Losses
The highest league finish was complemented by a few other records. After 15 games of the season, Arrows had lost just one game, their lowest at the halfway stage of a PSL season. They lost four more in the second half of the season, including three of the last five – echoing the suggestion that it was a season of two halves. That did not stop him from setting this record, however:
5 – Arrows lost just 5 games in the league in Ncikazi’s season, the fewest in their PSL history.
4. Players Used
Ncikazi brought the best out of a thin squad, and notably a few players, namely Michael Gumede and Velemseni Ndwandwe, their top scorers. Ndwandwe scored 7 goals in 27 appearances, having scored one in four seasons before then (30 appearances). Gumede also scored 7 this season, having scored one in his first top-flight campaign the season before. Yet, the anti-climatic end to the season is also encapsulated in this one stat:
22 – Arrows used 22 players in the league this season, the fewest of all sides.
5. Clean Sheets
One major area of improvement in Ncikazi’s Arrows side was the defensive output. 28 goals conceded may not be Chiefs-2004-esque, but it’s an impressive return for Arrows. It was also an impressive run for 24-year old Sfiso Mlungwana. Despite having to wait until the 7th game of the season for his first clean sheet, he became the first keeper in Arrows’ PSL history to record 11 clean sheets in a top-flight season.
1 – Only once before (27 goals in 2002/3) have Arrows conceded less than 28 goals in a full PSL season.