Moroka Swallows midfielder Pitso Lekone says that the Birds players will be upping their efforts as the 2004/05 season draws to a climax.
There is still plenty to play for this season as far as the Dube Birds are concerned - with both Pirates and Chiefs dropping points last weekend, the league title is by no means a foregone conclusion and Swallows are being tipped by some as being potential dark horses.
Not only is there the league title to play for, but there also a place in the lucrative Champion's League up for grabs - a competition with a winners cheque in the region of R6 million, while even the runners up receive about R4 million.
Then of course, there is also the 'small matter' of defending the Absa Cup, with Swallows' next challenge against Wits University in the quarter-finals, coming up next week.
Pitso Lekone is one player extra determined to work hard, not only for his own sake, but for that of the team's.
Lekone has not been a regular in the side, but has always done well when coming on - on Friday night he sealed the Birds win against Wits with a cracking strike from outside the box.
"I'm happy to be back in the mix," said Lekone. "I know that I need to work hard to stay in the team on a regular basis, and I plan to give 150% effort in order to make it difficult for Gavin Hunt to leave me out."
Asked whether he has become despondent at not being a regular in the team, Lekone replied: "No, I am still hopeful that my time will come, I just need to work even harder. Gavin Hunt has told me that he has confidence in me, while the Swallows fans I meet in the street are always encouraging me."
The Beautiful Birds' next Castle Premiership game is against Bush Bucks this weekend, at the Rand Stadium.
Relegation-threatened Imbabalala beat Ajax Cape Town 2-0 over the weekend, and with their PSL status hanging in the balance, they are not going to be an easy nut to crack.
"I'm scared of these sort of games," said Lekone. "We cannot underestimate teams like Bucks, who will come out fighting on Saturday. One of our problems has been that we sometimes relax in these sort of games. But the players have learnt their lesson, and we are really focussed on giving our best for the rest of the season."
Lekone also confirmed that none of his team-mates picked up any knocks in last week's match against the Students, giving coach Hunt a almost full squad to choose from.
The only exceptions are long-term injury victims Rufus Mokoti, Peter Petersen and Daniel Matsau.
By Anthony McLennan