Birds’ tails up as they plot rare win over Pirates

Musa Nyatama. | BackpagePix

Musa Nyatama. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 3, 2024



A Moroka Swallows victory over Orlando Pirates is as rare as a day without load shedding in South Africa. You have to go back to August 2021 to find a win for the Dube Birds over their Soweto adversaries.

That success was so long ago that they were still called Swallows FC back then – so long ago that their current coach, Musa Nyatama, was still a player.

Musa Nyatama. | BackpagePix

As they prepare to host the Buccaneers in a Premiership clash at the Dobsonville Stadium tonight, Nyatama will have to call on the experience of that glorious afternoon to inspire his team to maximum points.

Back then, Ruzaigh Gamaldien was the Swallows hero with a first-half brace – one a free kick and the other a goal from range gifted following a comical error by Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori – to see the Birds grabbing a 2-1 MTN8 quarter-final win.

The historical struggle to beat Pirates aside, Swallows will go into the match with their tails up having ended a wretched winless run of 13 matches at the weekend. Nyatama’s men had last won a match back in November before the weekend’s last- minute 1-0 victory over Premiership bottom dwellers Cape Town Spurs.

That tonight’s opponents were 2-1 losers at Sekhukhune United should add to the Birds’ confidence that they can collect a further three points to edge much closer to being assured of top-flight survival with eight matches to go.

Nyatama knows, however, that Pirates will be dangerous – just like animals are when wounded.

“We have a difficult match ahead against Pirates,” he said in his post-match media conference at Spurs.

“They lost to Sekhkhune and they will come at us, wanting maximum points. But we are playing at home and we should be doing well.”

They should be but they have not, Swallows having failed to win five of their matches in their own backyard since they beat TS Galaxy 1-0 in that last victory in November.

The win at Spurs should be a game-changer, though, and while pleased with how his team applied themselves, Nyatama plans to ring some changes to his starting line-up.

“I am not sure what changes I will make – whether I freshen the legs or not. But we are playing in three days’ time after this so I will probably freshen up the team a little bit.”

The Moroka Swallows team that beat Cape Town Spurs recently. | BackpagePix

What pleases him is that the victory at Spurs has eased the pressure on him and the team somewhat given that their long winless streak has been broken.

“Each and every point counts. And I could feel it – the players were not motivated and they needed encouragement. We lost 4-2 to Sekhukhune at home and it was not easy. I could not take that defeat.

“I had to lift my players. And now the three points eases the pressure a little bit.”

It has generally been proven over the seasons that 30 points are enough for a team to survive the chop or the play-off spot and 13th-placed Swallows are just 10 points better than Richards Bay in 15th spot with nine matches left.

Nyatama has his doubts this time around: “Even though we know that 30 points could be safe, we are not sure this season because Richards Bay and Cape Town Spurs (the bottom two teams) are improving and even getting points.

“We have got 27 points to play for, let’s see how many we can get. We need to get the maximum (against Pirates).”

It would be a massive feat should they do that, given that they’ve not done so against the Buccaneers in a while.