AmaTuks eager to show up struggling Birds

UNIVERSITY of Pretoria’s Tshepiso Mahlangu, left, with Gregory Damons of Moroka Swallows. | BackpagePix

UNIVERSITY of Pretoria’s Tshepiso Mahlangu, left, with Gregory Damons of Moroka Swallows. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 13, 2024


YOU have to go way back to November 8 last year for the last time Moroka Swallows won a match, 1-0 over TS Galaxy, in regulation time. That is a massive four months and 12 matches since the Birds were victorious.

Contrast that to the University of Pretoria’s record in that period and you can’t help but install the Motsepe Foundation League outfit as favourites for tonight’s Nedbank Round of 16 tie between the two sides.

AmaTuks have not lost a single of their 12 matches since November 4 and are looking good for promotion as they sit second on the table, a point behind leaders Magesi with nine matches to go. Swallows, on the other hand, are just a spot above the play-off spot - seven points more than second from bottom Richards Bay with 10 matches to go.

Yet, while indications are that the good bet will be on an AmaTuks win, knockout football has often shown to have no respect for current form.

AmaTuks coach Tlisane Motaung. | BackpagePix

Essentially, a new team following a period of financial turmoil that saw them not only part ways with coach Steve Komphela but also numerous players with vast experience, Swallows are trying to stay afloat in the elite league. And continued participation in the country’s premier club knockout competition is sure to give them the confidence they need to avoid being sucked into the relegation quagmire.

Yet, there’s very little to suggest they can. They are still in the competition courtesy of a win earned via a shoot-out from the penalty spot after they failed to dispatch another Motsepe Foundation outfit in the form of Platinum City Rovers who held them goalless for 120 minutes.

Since that progression, Swallows have drawn goalless and 1-1 with Kaizer Chiefs and AmaZulu, respectively, before they suffered a 4-1 hammering by Sekhukhune United in their own backyard last weekend.

Coach of Moroka Swallows Musa Nyatama. | BackpagePix

It remains to be seen just how good the motivational skills of Coach Musa Nyatama and his lieutenant Ditheko Mototo are.

Would they have been able to lift their players’ spirits up in two days to see them playing an AmaTuks outfit who were 2-1 winners over Hungry Lions at the weekend?

Such was Swallows’ second half capitulation against Sekhukhune at the Dobsonville Stadium that the university outfit are sure to be chomping at the bit to take them on. To say the Birds’ defence resembled a sieve would be putting it mildly as Sekhukhune scored their goals unhindered.

Granted AmaTuks are not the most prolific of scorers as evidenced by their having found the opposition net on just 23 occasions in 21 matches, but with six goals to his name Thabang Sibanyoni – on loan from Mamelodi Sundowns – is a proven finisher that Swallows should be wary off.

Tonight’s (7pm kick-off) match is at Tuks Stadium.