Marques delighted with Birds' early form
Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques believes his side have picked up where they left off at the end of last season and have flourished throughout the opening matches of this season’s Premiership.
Swallows find themselves fourth in the league table with six points from their first three ties, including a 3-0 drubbing of fierce Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates a fortnight ago.
“I think it’s a combination of factors that is contributing to our success,” Marques said on Tuesday.
“I think it’s continuity from last season and ambition from the players.
“The guys still have the hunger to win and they have the hunger to be successful.” The Birds finished second behind Pirates last season, when former coach Gordon Igesund performed a remarkable turnaround with the struggling outfit, but Marques was not thinking about the end results yet for the 2012/13 campaign and instead was encouraged by the progress shown by his squad.
“We’ve got quality players on board,” he said.
“We’ve got players that are experienced and I think it’s all gelling at the moment.
“The fact that I’ve settled down with the players as well, and I’ve been accepted by the group, makes life a bit easier.” Swallows return to action on Friday evening after a two-week break when they host league newcomers the University of Pretoria.
Marques believed his side would have to be at their best against Tuks, after the students showed an encouraging start to the season, going unbeaten in their first three matches.
“They are a great group of players, they have a good coach and they have stability within their club,” the former Troyeville FC midfielder said.
“They are showing that they have got ambition by being in the PSL, so you can’t take these teams for granted.” Meanwhile, on the injury front, Marques said veteran striker Siyabonga Nomvethe would undergo a late fitness test on Friday morning to determine whether he would be available this weekend.
Nomvethe appeared to have torn ligaments in the match against Pirates, but Marques said the injury was not as serious as initially thought and that medical reports did not show a tear to his ligaments.
“Nomvethe was at the physio this morning,” he said.
“We are giving him extra treatment to try and recover him as quickly as we can and on Friday before the match we will assess.
“We will make a decision on his fitness and availability. It’s just a slight bruise and it is very tender.
“If he is not 100% fit, then that will be the decision. We are not going to take a chance.
“Even if he is 80% fit, that still is not good enough for us. He has to be 100% fit or he can’t play.”
CONGRATULATES DE SA
Marques said on Tuesday he had phoned his good friend Roger de Sa personally to congratulate him on his appointment as new head coach of Orlando Pirates.
The Buccaneers announced the appointment on Monday afternoon.
De Sa replaced Augusto Palacios with immediate effect after Pirates chairman Irvin Khosa cited health reasons for the Peruvian’s exit.
“I’m obviously happy for Roger, he is a personal friend of mine,” Marques said.
“I phoned him yesterday and congratulated him.
“I think its an interesting choice. In actual fact, on Saturday night I was talking to some of my friends about Pirates and I said ’well, if there is one coach I would pick if I was the Pirates guy, it would be Roger de Sa’.”
Pirates have struggled thus far in the new season, slumping to a 3-0 defeat at home to the Birds last Saturday, while Swallows have continued to show their consistent form from last season with the newly appointed Marques at the helm.
“I think it’s good for Pirates. Roger is a good coach,” Marques said.
“I think he’ll bring an interesting dynamic into the team and I’m glad we played Pirates before Roger went on board, because I think they will be more spirited going forward.”