Dube Birds focused on promotion
It has been a memorable season for Swallows, who have punched above the weight after tipping themselves as one of the promotion candidates. The Dube Birds are second on the GladAfrica Championship log with 41 points, seven behind leaders Ajax Cape Town.
That’s an incredible return for a team who were languishing in amateur football eight months ago, playing in the regional ABC Motsepe League after being relegated from the Premiership and National First Division in successive seasons.
Having returned to the PSL through the back door by buying the status of Maccabi FC, few would have expected this for the Soweto-based side.
But those in the know will tell you that the appointment of coach Brandon Truter, who replaced Zeca Marques, was one of the master strokes in the team’s resurgence.
Speaking after his team held third-placed Uthongathi to a goalless draw at Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday, as they hit a slump in their bid to close the gap at the top, Truter remained optimistic they are still on course to challenge for promotion to the elite league.
“We’ll fight until the end. Yes, we are seven points behind but we still have to play them (Ajax) in Cape Town. The top five teams are still playing one another, so anything can still happen. There are six games left, so there’s 18 points up for grabs and anything can still happen,” Truter explained.
Truter may be the umbrella of the team but credit must also go to senior players such as captain Lebogang “Cheeseboy” Mokoena, Vuyo Mere, Virgil Vries and Phumelele Bhengu for how they’ve guided the youngsters this season.
“Their role in the team is massive. I remember when I came here, Cheese was telling me that he’s retiring at the end of the season. I tried to convince him to stay, and I think he’s now enjoying his football and I don’t think he’ll retire,” Truter said.
“Their input and experience are invaluable in the team. I value them as senior players who’ve been there and done it at the highest level. Virgil as well has been important. I wouldn’t want to lose them at the end of the season.”
Having been one of the surprise packages this season, Swallows have been getting all the attention in recent weeks. But despite the hype, the Dube Birds are keeping their feet on the group as they know they are not out of the woods yet.
“Early in the season, I think the team was in 13th or 14th position, and people were saying, ‘Swallows is an easy three points’. They’ll try to survive. But we’ve changed a few things, especially after the experienced boys came in as well, so we’ve put a string of good results,” Truter concluded.@MihlaliBaleka