Birds find the going is getting tougher
MOROKA Swallows have become one of the teams to beat in the Absa Premiership, and will have to raise their game to continue their successful start to the season, coach Zeca Marques said after his side’’s 2-0 defeat to Bidvest Wits at Bidvest Stadium on Tuesday night.
Swallows, the MTN8 champions whose stylish attacking football has caught the eye in the first third of the season, have faltered slightly in recent matches.
Their defeat against Wits was preceded by a draw against Black Leopards at home in the league, which followed an away penalties loss to Maritzburg United in the Telkom Knockout first round.
Marques admitted it is getting tougher for the Birds to win games as their reputation grows.
“We’’ve been on form, everyone’’s been talking about us and we’’re the MTN8 champions. So now everyone you play really wants to go out and beat you,” the Swallows coach said.
“We raised the bar, and now everyone’’s going out to match us. So now we have to find a way to raise our game again and overcome that. And that’’s good for football.”
For Wits counterpart Antonio Lopes Habas, in contrast, the momentum is just starting to build. A Students team who made arguably the most impressive signings of the off-season started the season in patchy form, as a lot of new players took time to gel.
But Wits have lost one game – their Telkom Knockout quarter-final on penalties to Free State Stars on the weekend – in their last eight.
“I don’’t know what the potential of this team is or how far we can go,” Habas said.
The Clever Boys were impressive against Swallows, creating a host of chances in the first half before Papy Fathy opened the scoring in the 43rd.
In the second half Wits were content to play deeper, close the spaces, and probe for openings. They capitalised on the space that Swallows, pushing for an equaliser, left at the back when substitute Ofentse Nato slammed in a second in the 83rd.
“I think that the game was finished in the first half, when we were better in attack and distribution of the ball. But I was very happy with the 90 minutes,” Habas said.
Marques was disgruntled at Wits’’ defensive tactics in the second half, but admitted Habas’’s gameplan had worked for the Students.
“Wits parked the bus – it was a double-decker as well, plus a trailer and a horse,” Marques said. “And they played on the counter-attack. They were clever – take nothing away from them, the strategy they used worked for them.”