Birds wary of Pirates backlash

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iol spt feb26 Zeca Gallo Images Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques is all too aware of the humiliation Orlando Pirates suffered at the weekend.

Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques is all too aware of the gaping wound Orlando Pirates suffered at the weekend, when they suffered their biggest defeat in seven years to a lower-division team.

But ahead of Swallows’ Absa Premiership meeting with the Buccaneers tonight (Dobsonville Stadium, 7.30pm), Marques was not necessarily jumping with glee in anticipation of a win.

“It won’t be the same as when Pirates played over the weekend,” he said in reference to Bucs’ shock 4-1 Nedbank Cup first round defeat to Maluti College, a Free State side 31 places below Pirates in domestic football’s rankings.

“We have to be extra cautious because Pirates can’t afford to lose two games in a row.”

Ironically, Swallows were involved the last time Pirates lost two successive games in September. Bucs had lost 3-0 to SuperSport United in an MTN 8 fixture and, a week later, they hosted Swallows at Orlando in the Premiership and suffered defeat with the same scoreline.

Eventually, those two poor results saw Augusto Palacios depart his position as Bucs head coach, although the official spin was that he had “back problems” which made it difficult for him to continue as coach.

Nothing has suggested that Roger de Sa could be out of his job soon, but failure to beat the Birds tonight and ascend to the top of the Premiership could leave him under pressure.

De Sa should field his strongest squad this evening after his gamble to leave Daine Klate and Lucky Lekgwathi out of Saturday’s cup fixture against Maluti backfired badly.

That is why Marques, whose Swallows were also bundled out of the cup, albeit via penalties by SuperSport, is not reading too much into Maluti’s hammering of Pirates.

“It’s a tricky match … a derby,” the Swallows trainer said yesterday. “Pirates are second on the log, and it’s not a mistake that they are up there. It’s because they are a good team. They were humiliated over the weekend and will want to avoid that. But we too are also a good team. Our defence has improved. We are not letting in as many goals as we used to.”

Marques attributed Swallows’ sudden defensive solidity to the arrival of Larry Cohen from Chippa United.

“Larry and Roger da Costa have been good for us this year. We have become more compact and we changed the system from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1. It won’t be easy to score against us.”

Swallows may have kept a clean sheet against SuperSport but they did concede in 1-1 draws with Ajax Cape Town and Tuks, leaving them in the bottom half of the standings, only three points above bottom side Chippa. “I’m not worried about that because we are also a point or two away from the teams above us. One or two wins, and we are in the top eight. But we really want to get away from our current (12th) position.”

Veteran striker Siyabonga Nomvethe will be key tonight. Following a lengthy injury layoff, he scored in both draws against Ajax and Tuks, and was always a threat against SuperSport.

“He’s looking good. He may have just come back from injury, but already he’s very close to the form he showed last season,” Marques said of Nomvethe, 35.

 

LAST 10 league meetings

2007/08: Swallows 0-3 Pirates

2008/09: Pirates 1-0 Swallows

2008/09: Swallows 2-1 Pirates

2009/10: Swallows 0-1 Pirates

2009/10: Pirates 2-2 Swallows

2010/11: Swallows 0-2 Pirates

2010/11: Pirates 2-0 Swallows

2011/12: Pirates 1-1 Swallows

2011/12: Swallows 0-0 Pirates

2012/13: Pirates 0-3 Swallows

Head-to-Head

(League only, since 1985)

Home

P W D L F A

Swallows 26 5 11 10 23 30

Pirates 29 11 13 5 37 25

Away

Swallows 29 5 13 11 25 37

Pirates 26 10 11 5 30 23

Total

Swallows 55 10 24 21 48 67

Pirates 55 21 24 10 67 48

This week’s fixtures

Tonight: Swallows v Pirates, Dobson- ville; SuperSport v Tuks, Atteridgeville, both 7.30pm

Saturday: Arrows v FS Stars, King Zwelithini Stadium; Celtic v Chippa, Free State Stadium, Chiefs v Wits, Soccer City, 6pm; Swallows v AmaZulu, Dobsonville, 8.15pm

Sunday: Platinum Stars v Tuks, Royal Bafokeng; Maritzburg v Leopards, Harry Gwala Stadium

Matches at 3.30pm unless stated

Standings

P W D L F A Pts

Chiefs 19 12 6 1 36 13 42

Pirates 18 12 4 2 25 9 40

Plat Stars 19 12 1 6 31 19 37

FS Stars 19 8 7 4 19 15 31

Maritzburg 19 6 7 6 18 18 25

Celtic 19 7 4 8 21 22 25

Wits 19 6 7 6 18 21 25

Tukkies 18 5 9 4 19 17 24

Sundowns 19 5 8 6 16 16 23

SuperSport 18 3 12 2 19 16 21

Arrows 19 5 5 9 18 22 20

Swallows 18 5 4 9 25 29 19

Leopards 19 3 8 8 21 32 17

Ajax 19 4 5 10 18 32 17

AmaZulu 19 3 8 8 9 23 17

Chippa 19 3 7 9 17 26 16 - The Star



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