Johannesburg – Embattled Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques will be on the bench on Wednesday, February 13 when the Premier League resumes and The Birds take on Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium.
Swallows talisman and evergreen Bafana Bafana stalwart Siyabonga Nomvethe, who has been sidelined for more than two months following complicated foot surgery, will be back in action.
This was the promise made by Swallows chief executive Leon Prins on Sunday, ending speculation surrounding the coach's immediate future.
“The comprehensive 2-0 win in our last game against Platinum Stars has lifted the veil of despondency that had crept into the club,” said Prins, “and with Siyabonga fit again there is no reason why we should not recapture the form that earned us the MTN8 title at the start of the season.”
Since then last season's Premier League runners-up plummeted from potential championship challengers to the verge of the relegation zone and Marques was given two games to save his job.
Prins confirmed that the coach who succeeded Gordon Igesund this season had offered his resignation following a dismal 3-1 home defeat against SuperSport United at the Dobsonville Stadium.
It was the eighth game in a row in which the plummeting Dube “Birds” had failed to gain a victory, while tasting bitter defeat in four successive outings.
This was followed by a 2-1 defeat against Bloemfontein Celtic and the writing was on the wall for Marques.
But then on Wednesday night, Marques may have come to believe there is a Father Christmas after all.
The Birds freed themselves from their suffocating shackles and beat Platinum Stars, the PSL's “team of the moment”, in convincing fashion.
“When any soccer team goes through a bad patch,” said Prins, “the hysterical, often unfounded reaction is to blame the coach.
“I don't think Zeca was responsible for our decline,” he added.
“It was a general reaction of complacency in the first instance and then a loss of confidence among the players that had crept into the club after the MTN success.
“But another defeat against Platinum Stars,” added Prins, “and we might have been forced into drastic action. Happily that will not be necessary now and with Nomvethe back after the season's break for the Afcon tournament, the confidence and enthusiasm is back too.”
Marques began his tenure on a high note and seemed to be maintaining the momentum engendered by Igesund when The Birds annexed the early-season MTN8 title – the club's first major success in years.
But success may have gone to the team and its mentor's heads and the rot began to set in with a vengeance.
The Birds' decline coincided with the crippling foot injury to Nomvethe, the club's talisman goalscorer and last year's PSL “Footballer of the Year” . – Sapa