Johannesburg – Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques got more than he bargained for when his Dube Birds soared to a 2-1 derby victory over Orlando Pirates on Saturday.
While a single point was the objective for Marques, midfielder Lerato Chabangu audaciously came off the bench to snatch maximum points with a late goal at the Orlando Stadium, leaving Pirates bewildered.
“We were playing for the draw but in the end we managed to get the three points. It was a great performance from my team, I can't ask for more really,” Marques said.
The Swallows game-plan was to allow the opposition to dominate ball possession, while also frustrate them by preventing them from scoring, he said.
“We just allowed them to keep the ball. We stayed compact and defensively organised. We knew that it was going to be difficult for them to penetrate us. Pirates scored from a penalty, and we scored two great goals from open play. The guys were gutsy and were able to ready every play from Pirates.”
After finishing three points adrift from the relegation zone last season, in 13th position, the tactician said the team was determined to have a much improved campaign.
“We are re-energised and we are going to get even better. We showed a great spirit and showed that we can do it with limited resources. My players showed that this team has the heart and a will to win.”
Pirates have only themselves to blame for the shock result after an abysmal display in front of goal. They had plenty of chances to bury their rivals but, once again, their misfiring came back to haunt them.
Against the run of play, Swallows opened the scoring in the eighth minute when a Lantshene Phalane's shot took a deflection off defender Siyabonga Sangweni, leaving goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa flatfooted. Pirates responded with a penalty from midfielder Oupa Manyisa which levelled matters in the 34th minute.
The Pirates reprisal was spearheaded by Mpho Makola, Kermit Erasmus and Thabo Matlaba. The Buccaneers were on the ascendancy and took control of the match but failed miserably to register another goal.
Swallows midfielder Chabangu and wing-back Shere Lekgothoane both came on from the substitute's bench to combine for the winning goal in the 81st minute.
Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic said his team was finally punished for its miscues at goal and there were lessons to be learnt from the defeat.
“I said before that in sport when you miss many opportunities you have to lose. They created two chances and they scored. We created a lot of opportunities and we didn't score. Unfortunately we lost,” Vermezovic said.
Vermezovic believed his team rode their luck too many times, and it was time to take stock and move on.
“At the end of the day, it was good to lose early on in the season. The players know exactly where they made their mistakes and we are going to fix them for sure.”
In the end, Swallows were only too happy to take advantage of their foes' shortcomings, ironically helping Pirates realise that if they want to succeed this season, they need to drastically improve. – Sapa