Johannesburg – “José Mourinho started as a translator for Bobby Robson before he went on to become the world’s best coach. There are many stories like that. If you give people a chance, and support, they can get on (well).”
Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques clearly has some lofty ambitions. The new incumbent of the Beautiful Birds hot seat has had to endure his share of scepticism since replacing Gordon Igesund as head coach for the coming season.
But for Marques this, after a long apprenticeship, is his time to shine. And he has started pretty well, with a place in the MTN8 final already secure, sending Swallows into Saturday night’s Absa Premiership meeting with Orlando Pirates bursting with confidence.
Igesund started the train, rejuvenating the careers of the likes of Siyabonga Nomvethe and David Mathebula, as Swallows surged into second place last season. And Marques, it seems, now intends to send it into warp speed.
“I think I am a coach of vision,” he said this week.
“My philosophy is to entertain, to play attacking football. I like to see intelligent players, with creative, flowing movements. I am one of those coaches who allows players to express themselves.
“I like to think I’m in that type of mould of a modern coach, who knows how to control a game. My philosophy is based on Portuguese ideas of football, bringing them into South Africa, and aligning it with the best here.”
A Portuguese influence understandably litters most of Marques’ football-speak. His family moving from Portugal to Johannesburg in his childhood, and Marques was a central midfielder in the old NSL with Troyeville FC, and also played in the NPSL, before deciding to take up coaching.
He went to Portugal to do his Uefa A license in 1998. And this is where the Robson/Mourinho analogy clearly comes in.
“Around then I also spent some time with Bobby Robson at Porto, when Mourinho was there,” he says.
Marques returned to South Africa, and landed his first plum job in South African football in 1999, starting where he is now, at Moroka Swallows, as an assistant to Walter Da Silva.
With Swallows struggling, in the 1999/2000 season, however, Da Silva was famously kidnapped by some angry “fans”, prompting him to ultimately quit the hot seat. Marques stepped in, and saved the team from relegation, beating Sundowns in their final match at Rand Stadium.
Marques continued, but was subjected to his own threats the following season, and was eventually replaced by Victor Bondarenko.
“There was a lot of that going around then, there is much less today,” says Marques.
“I think supporters are more mature and understand football better.”
And now, after further spells as an assistant at Wits and Swallows, perhaps Marques understands football better too.
He certainly has the side playing some vibrant stuff, thumping six goals past Sundowns over the two legs of their MTN8 semi-final.
“We’ve worked very hard (on scoring) in training,” said Marques.
“Everyone has shared the responsibility, the first thing I said to the players (this season) is we can’t rely on one or two goalscorers, we need five or six.”
Lerato Chabangu has certainly stepped up to the plate in this regard, taking some of the load off Siyabonga Nomvethe. Chabangu and Nomvethe were both this week named in Gordon Igesund’s first ever Bafana Bafana squad.
“I spoke to Lerato and told him that he has so much quality, creativity, so much more to give to reach his potential,” said Marques.
“And I would like to help him reach that potential.”
Chabangu and Nomvethe are but two of the big name players who have thrived with the Birds, after less effective spells elsewhere.
“I think the conditions around the players makes them better. With the culture within the club, they enjoy playing at Swallows.”
On September 22, meanwhile, Marques has a chance to go one better than Igesund, and pick up some silverware, as Swallows face SuperSport in the MTN8 final.
“It would be great to start the season with a trophy under our belt,” says Marques.
“Success breeds success.”
And what of the league title?
“It’s a tough ask, we have to be realistic ... there are more teams better off as far as their squads are concerned ... I would like to do it, that is what our aim is, but as much as we are thinking that way, there are another six teams.”
Oh, come Zeca, that’s now very Mourinho-like, is it? – The Star