Birds on cloud nine, but coach Brandon Truter is keeping focus
JOHANNESBURG - Swallows FC coach Brandon Truter is well aware of the pressure that comes with coaching in the Premiership, but concedes that he has enjoyed the thrills and spills that have come with competing with the big boys.
Rarely does it happen that a “supposedly inexperienced coach in topflight football” retains his seat in the dugout when he promotes a team from the GladAfrica Championship to the Premiership as the club usually settles for an "experienced campaigner".
But fresh from inspiring the Birds from the second division to the top flight, Truter retained his position. The Capetonian hasn't put a foot wrong so far, instead he has proven his detractors wrong as he has maintained the team's undefeated record.
Swallows are flying high as they are second on the league standings with 21 points, thanks to six wins and three draws. They are level on points with leaders and champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who hold a superior goal difference.
Swallows' winning streak also includes defeating beleaguered Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in a Soweto derby last year, while they opened the New Year, on Tuesday, with a 3-2 victory over Cape Town City at Dobsonville Stadium.
“The pressure is more than anything, I have to confess. The pressure to perform, succeed and get the three results is more. In the GladAfrica (Championship), there's no variation, when you are fifth or 13th,” Truter said.
“But coaching here, in top flight, it's different. You can, however, say I am enjoying myself. But ja, it's a job at the end of the day and you have to love what you do. And as the saying goes, ‘if you enjoy what you do, you won't have to work a day in your life'. I enjoy what I am doing.”
The 30-point mark has been earmarked as a reference of safety in the Premiership. But with Swallows merely nine points away from reaching that mark, do they have what it takes to win the championship in their first season back?
“We are not going to set targets. Relegation and saving the status wasn't part of the negotiations,” Truter, who has coached two other teams in the GladAfrica Championship before, said. “Again, we'll focus on the next match, where we'll be looking for three points.”
Swallows' next match will be another Soweto derby against rivals Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium on Sunday. Despite having already defeated Chiefs, Truter believes their job will be cut out for them against a well organised Pirates team.
“Pirates are a different kettle of fish. I think they are a very dynamic and offensive team. I think they'll be different to what we've faced before. And I think they are going to be a true test of character. We'll do the best that we can although it's their game,” Truter said.
On Sunday, Pirates will be playing their first match since a 1-0 defeat to Sundowns last weekend. But for Swallows, the derby will represent another chance for players such as Ruzaigh Gamildien to show their skill in front of goals, having scored seven so far.
“I think I came back motivated because I was disappointed with my previous club (Chippa United) after being released,” Gamildien said.
“I've set small targets for myself this season. And most of the (good) performances have come from the coach being able to believe in me.”