Siyabonga Nomvethe is in a race to win his first PSL title before he retires, but will have to wait another season for a shot at glory while he attempts to save Moroka Swallows from relegation.
Nomvethe had hoped that this would be the season he finally gets to lift the PSL trophy after Swallows finished second last season and started the current campaign on a high with their MTN8 triumph. However things have gone wrong for the Dube Birds who are now in 12th place, just three points ahead of bottom-placed Chippa United.
“I’ve never won the league in South Africa. I only won a league title in Europe (with AaB in Denmark in 2008/2009). I had expected that I would win my first title with Gordon (Igesund) last season, but we were unlucky. We are not in the race this year, so we’ll try next year because I think we have the quality in the squad. I’m hoping by next year I will have a league title.
“I don’t know when I will retire but I hope I win a title before I do. God has given me the talent and I have to use this opportunity while I still can,” the veteran striker said yesterday.
Back from an injury that kept him out for almost half the season, the reigning Absa Premiership Player-of-the-Year has demonstrated his value to the Dube Birds, scoring two goals in as many matches in the league as Swallows try to avoid a relegation battle that looks likely to go down to the wire.
“It was disappointing to see the team in the situation it was in (in the first half of the season), because as a player you always want to see your team collecting three points. But these things happen. It’s football and we just have to make sure we improve on our position,” the 35-year-old said.
“I’m very happy to be back in the team. And it’s a good feeling to join the team and score goals.”
Nomvethe was at the heartbeat of Swallows’ amazing campaign last season and even though the Dube Birds have gone on to endure pain after their promising start to the season, the striker is adamant they can finish the season on a high. And he has set his sights on a top eight finish, which would give the club a chance to defend the MTN8 title they won in September when they beat SuperSport United.
“I can’t tell you where we will finish this season, as long as we are not outside the top eight come May.”
Swallows are determined to finish in the top eight, while Pirates (who they face tonight in Dobsonville) would want to make the most of the game that they have in hand on leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
“It’s going to be an exciting match. We are respecting them, they are the champions. We have to focus on our own style. We need three points, and they also need points because they are challenging for the title. It’s going to be interesting.”
Tuks coach Steve Barker said ahead of the clash that his young side would have to pick themselves up from their Nedbank Cup first round defeat to Maritzburg United on Saturday.
“It’s a tough league. We’ve just got to keep plugging away and we need to keep on working at it,” Barker said.
“If you look at the log, if we win today’s game in hand we jump back to fifth position, so there is a lot play for.”
The fixture will serve as an opportunity to catch up with the rest of the pack, who have played 19 league games.
The Pretoria derby will be Tuks’ fourth match in 13 days and SuperSport’s fifth.
Barker admitted that the players’ fitness was at the top of his priority list with games coming thick and fast.
“You can’t play players on a Wednesday, a Saturday and then again on the following Tuesday,” he said. “I think we have to be clever in terms of what we do in those situations.” - The Star