Johannesburg – Zeca Marques has piled the pressure on the match officials ahead of Friday night’s Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs, stating that his main concern ahead of the game (Dobsonville Stadium, kick-off 8pm) is that it is not influenced by controversial decisions.
The Moroka Swallows coach is clearly still smarting from previous refereeing displays in his encounters with Amakhosi, on Thursday harking back to the lengthy stoppage time awarded by Victor Gomes in Chiefs’ 3-2 win over the Birds at FNB Stadium last season, and to the penalty awarded to Chiefs in the 1-1 draw at FNB Stadium this season.
“We know that these games are always tight and controversial,” said Marques.
“We played this season and we drew and we played last season and lost 3-2.
“My biggest concern is eight minutes stoppage time after 90 minutes … and anything in the big box is a big concern.
“We recently conceded a penalty against Chiefs against the run of play and last year we lost 3-2 with the infamous eight minutes.”
It was Lehlohonolo Majoro who netted the winner in stoppage time in November 2012 to give Chiefs the 3-2 win, and this season, Bernard Parker converted a penalty after Asavela Mbekile was adjudged by Kulasande Qongqo to have fouled Knowledge Musona.
Marques failed to mention last season’s other league fixture when Swallows were awarded a penalty, while 1-0 up at home to Chiefs at Dobsonville Stadium.
Referee Buyile Gqubule famously made Katlego Mashego take the spot-kick three times, twice ruling out a Swallows goal for encroachment. And Itumeleng Khune saved Mashego’s spot-kick at the third time of asking. Chiefs ended up winning 3-1.
“I don’t think it is a question of referees favouring Chiefs,” added Marques.
“I think it is a world trend that the big teams get the favour of the referee. It is nothing new, you see it in Europe and South Africa. It takes courage sometimes to blow these games.
“(It) will be a heated affair. We are playing for respect, and pride, we know we have the quality to be in a better position.
“If Chiefs want to beat us it will be over our dead bodies, we know the value the three points mean to us … it shortens the gap a bit and makes the league a bit more exciting.”
Swallows are currently 11 points behind league-leading Amakhosi, with a game in hand, but Marques believes they can match the quality of this Chiefs side.
“Pound for pound, we are on a par with Chiefs,” he said.
“We have got what I believe to be a star-studded team, equal to Chiefs.
“If you take their players in any position, we can match them … we should not feel inferior to anyone. With players like (Lerato) Chabangu, (Edward) Manqele and (Asavela) Mbekile, we are no longer pushovers.”
Marques does believe Swallows can make a title challenge this season, provided they do not get injuries to key players.
“We have a crop of players good enough to win leagues and cups, but we don’t have the depth in the squad. We must hope and pray we don’t have any serious injuries,” said Marques.
There has been speculation that Manqele could join Chiefs before the transfer window shuts this afternoon, but Marques put out that particular fire.
“He (Manqele) is staying, it is confirmed, he is going nowhere,” said Marques, who added that it was still possible that Swallows might make some last-gasp signings.
“You never know, watch this space, football is a crazy world.
“I think most players get signed at the last minute,” said the Swallows coach.