Swallows looking to make an impact this year

2008-08-05 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Moroka Swallows are determined to come out of the shadow of their Soweto big brothers, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates during the new PSL season which kicks off at the weekend.

The Birds are placing their faith in new Brazilian coach Julio Cesar Leal, who impressed in guiding struggling AmaZulu to safety two seasons ago.

Leal faces his first big test when the Birds host Ajax Cape Town in the quarterfinals of the MTN 8 at Rustenburg’s Olympia Park on Saturday.

Leal, the brother of Bafana assistant coach Jairo, joined the Birds in pre-season and according to club general manager Sipho Xulu, he is working wonders.

The Birds have lost their Bafana defender Bevan Fransman, who is now playing in Israel. They replaced him with veteran Fabian McCarthy, who was released by Kaizer Chiefs.

Said Xulu: “We are confident that McCarthy will fill Fransman’s boots. Leal has made the world of difference to the squad. The players are buzzing and cannot wait until the season gets underway.”

Xulu said that with R8 million up for grabs for the new top eight winners, it was crucial to get past the first round (quarterfinals).

Said Xulu: “Most teams will be rusty during the first game. I realise that Ajax have sold a lot of their top players, which means that the gap between us has narrowed and, in Rustenburg, I fancy our chances of winning and getting a place in the semifinals.”

Ajax sold strikers Nathan Paulse and Russell Mwafuliwa to Swedish clubs, defender Dominic Isaacs has joined Chiefs, Bafana right back Bryce Moon has joined Greek giants Panathinaikos, while Cameroon midfielder Eyong Enoh is plying his trade in Israel.

The Birds made two other signings in the pre-season. They have former South African under-23 striker Ryan Botha who can play on the wing and midfielder Morgan Chivambu from Winners Park.

The duo, plus McCarthy, are set to make their Birds debuts against the depleted Urban Warriors.

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