Zeca Marques’ assertion that Moroka Swallows are not worried about getting relegated was evident on the faces of his players in the tunnel after their 1-0 loss to Orlando Pirates on Saturday.
No sooner had his ageing Swallows slumped to their 10th defeat of the season against their Soweto rivals, than the Dube Birds’ players walked to the change-rooms as though there is no crisis when there actually is one.
Smiles on the faces of Dikgang Mabalane and a few others hardly showed disappointment at the loss and with their position of fifth from the bottom of the league log.
They have blamed their dreadful run in the league on bad luck, and coach Marques believes it’s only a matter of time before they find form and climb up the table. Problem is, time is running out and points are being dropped, both at home and on the road.
Their form has been the subject of scrutiny and it does not get any easier with a trip to North West next to face Platinum Stars, who have lost just twice at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in the league this season.
“No, not at all, we are not worried (about relegation). We need three points. There’s 18 points still at stake. I don’t think going forward that the other teams we will face will have the same luck Pirates had today,” Marques said.
“When luck is not on your side, you do not get results. So hopefully this was the last game where luck was not on our side.”
Marques talks about Pirates having luck but Swallows, still with just one league win this year, were frankly just poor on the night. They did not even test Senzo Meyiwa in the Buccaneers goal and if their strikers do not come to the party, relegation will stare them in the face even more pointedly than it is already.
“Obviously we are not finding the back of the net. (Siyabonga) Nomvethe has gone off the boil, but we have to look for options and try to score,” said Marques.
“If you don’t score, you will get punished. But when you put Pirates on the back foot for 45 minutes, then you know your team has done well and showed character.
“We did not come here with fear, we did not show undue respect and that to me is the gratifying point. Overall, I felt we deserved a draw at least.
“But in football there is not always fairness. We are disappointed with the result, yet overall it was a good game.”
Even though his team have been woeful under-performers, Marques insists his players are still highly motivated.
“I don’t think the problem is motivation. If the players are not motivated, they would not be playing like this. In my opinion this was a great performance. The only thing lacking was a goal.”
Swallows finished outside the top eight last season after winning the MTN8 and look destined to end the season in the bottom half of the table again, unless there is a sudden transformation. They are just seven points ahead of Polokwane City who are second-from-bottom.
“It’s a huge challenge. We know there are a lot of points that we still need to play for. It would great to be in the top eight. The performance today gives us a hope going forward.”
Two-and-a-half seasons ago, Swallows were in second place under Gordon Igesund and there were whispers of them actually winning the title. Just look at them now.
This is a team that needs some fresh blood to counteract the incompetence that has been on display for most of the season.