One of the oldest football clubs in the country, Swallows FC, is on the cusp of completing a remarkable resurrection from the ashes.
Only last season the team was in the wilderness of South African football in the amateur ranks. Then in 2019, in an effort led by ANC political heavyweight Panyaza Lesufi, the club made a return to professional football. The campaign was also spearheaded by businessmen David Mogashoa and Sipho Xulu, the co-owners of the club, who work as chairman and chief executive, respectively.
Second division side Maccabi FC was bought and renamed at the start of the 2019/20 season.
What once was the famous Moroka Swallows reincarnated itself as simply Swallows. The owners could not continue with the previous name because the previous club owed millions to ex-players and had been taken to international governing body Fifa.
In its first season the team had its ups and downs – it parted ways with coach Zeca Marques and appointed Brandon Truter.
Fast-forward to the present and Truter has transformed the team from a struggling bottom-half outfit to top of the NFD table. They are now just one win away from securing their return to the premier division.
Swallows elbowed Ajax Cape Town from the summit of the GladAfrica Championship following their 2-0 win over Richards Bay. With both teams on 54 points, only goal difference separates them.
The Soweto club face Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila in their final match of the season at Makhulong Stadium on Sunday.
Truter said winning the R3 million league prize was in their hands now.
“I always thought it was Ajax’s league to lose, but now we are on top and it’s ours to lose.
“On Sunday, of course, we want to win it outright. The playoffs are also a possibility. We are planning for any eventuality. All our bases are covered in terms of this weekend.”
Truter praised the team’s management for not interfering in his job as coach.
“When I came in, I was given the freedom by the board to focus on my work and not to worry about other things.
“The management gave me a mandate that was reasonable. At other clubs where I worked it was a challenge sometimes because [I had to] explain substitutions and coaching decisions.
“It was not an easy decision to come to Swallows because I left Richards Bay who were second [on the log] and came to Swallows who were 14th-placed. Some people thought the writing was on the wall.”