Kaizer Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral’s warning that Moroka Swallows are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season, has proved to be spot on.
Ertugral watched as the new-look Birds under Brazilian coach Julio Cesar Leal, dismantled Chiefs winning 2-0 in an action packed Absa Premiership Soweto Derby played at a sweltering Olympia Park on Sunday.
Said Ertugral:” I have no excuses. Swallows deserved to beat us. We gave away two goals and missed countless chances to win, especially in the second half, once again. Now we have conceded seven goals in four matches and we only conceded around 20 all last season. This is a disaster and totally unacceptable.”
However, Ertugral praised Swallows: “As I said before the game, they are well organised and a very good team. They capitalised on the counter and on our defensive mistakes. I watched in frustration as chance after chance was missed. But I also thought we should have been awarded a second half penalty for hand ball but there is no use crying over that as we did not get the decision from the referee.”
Leal said he was delighted to beat a top side like Chiefs in a big game. He added he had seen a big improvement in the standard of the PSL – not just the players – but the coaching was top class since he helped AmaZulu avoid relegation two years ago. Said Leal: “The PSL is very competitive. I could see the difference when I joined Swallows at the start of this season. I am enjoying the challenge. The coaching is better, as are the players. It is going to be a really good season.”
The Birds produced a top drawer display to beat Chiefs who have recently won the MTN 8 cup final and the R8 million winner takes all prize. They also defeated last year’s runners up Ajax Cape Town 2-0 last weekend.
“I knew playing Chiefs would be difficult after they won the MTN 8 and beat Ajax who had beaten us 4-2. But I am happy with our progress since we lost to Ajax, having beaten Santos (3-0) and now Chiefs. This was a really big win for the club and has been a fantastic morale booster to all the players and technical staff. I always knew we had the ability, now it is there for all to see.”
The key to Leal is the way has got Swallows better organised and his tactical discipline is superb. This new-look Birds are not going to have their feather plucked easily by any side in the PSL this season. Leal said that the players deserve a pat on the back for the way they have adapted to his new style of coaching and team management.
“It is a new team I took over three months ago. We have some exciting youngsters and top class experienced players. We are starting to gel and we look forward to the season with a fair amount of confidence. But all credit to the players who have worked hard to work with my vision and philosophy.”
Leal said that his target was to finish in the top three of the Premiership at the end of next May. “This was the goal that was discussed by myself, the technical staff and club management before the season started. I believe it is a target we can achieve. If we do better than that will be a fantastic bonus.
But May is a long way away and it is too early to make predictions.”
The Birds coaching staff are excited about the way veteran former Chiefs striker David Radebe has warmed to his new club and how he has taken exciting 18-tyear-old prospect Phumelele “Ace” Bhengu under his wing. Radebe laid on both goals for the teenager to score in the first half. It is the second successive win that the Birds have scored over Amakhosi at the same venue. They beat Chiefs 1-0 in the recent MTN 8 semi-final, second leg at Olympia Park but lost 2-1 on aggregate with Amakhosi going on to beat Mamelodi Sundowns in a penalty shootout in the final.