Birds coach reads riot act

2009-10-14 11:35

Moroka Swallows new coach Rainer Zobel has used the Fifa international break to lay down the law and get his under-performing players back on track.

The German born Zobel, like Birds’ fans, is incensed by the club’s recent slump which has seen them hit almost rock bottom of the Premier League.

The Birds have a meagre eight points from nine fixtures played so far – only two more than bottom-of-the-log Jomo Cosmos.

Said Swallows assistant coach Zeca Marques: “The coach (Zobel) had a heart-to-heart talk with all the players and explained, in no uncertain terms, what their responsibilities are. Our captain Lefa Tsutsulupa has also shown tremendous leadership qualities by also taking it upon himself to talk to his teammates and ensure we end this disastrous slump.”

Marques is confident the Birds will be flying high again when they host Maritzburg United at the Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday (3.30pm) when the Absa Premiership resumes after the two week Fifa break.

“What has impressed the coaching staff this week is that there is a new buzz at training, the players have a new spring in their step after the chat from the coach. I believe that Swallows will bounce back stronger than ever against Maritzburg.”

Another factor boosting Birds is that they will be close to full strength with the return of their veteran striker Collins Mbesuma, who was on duty in the World Cup qualifiers with Zambia and also suspended for two matches, plus the return of Birds’ three South African under-20 stars, defenders Sibusiso Khumalo and Ramahlwe Mphahlele as well as striker Phumelele Bengu who were on duty with Amajita at the recent World Youth Championships in Egypt where the young South Africans reached the second round.

“Mbesuma was suspended for our last two matches while we missed our three SA under-20 players who are all regular members of the first team squad. Their absence meant that the coach had to make adjustments and positional changes.”

Marques is hoping that Mbesuma, one the most feared striker in the Premier Soccer League when he almost single handedly led Kaizer Chiefs to their last Premiership title in the 2004/05 season, will be back to his full potential.

Mbesuma, who joined the Birds from Mamelodi Sundowns at the start of this season, has yet to score for his new employers.

“But,” said Marques, “it is only a matter of time before Mbesuma starts hitting the back of the net. Hopefully he will break his goal drought on Sunday.”

Marques also stressed that they were not looking hard at United’s shock 5-1 home loss to Sundowns in their last fixture played at home.

“Losing like that will make United more determined to bounce back so that will make sure we do not take United for granted. Complacency is not on our agenda. The coach has stressed this week how important this match is for us. It is vital we win and start climbing back up the table.” 

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