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Birds Host People's Team In Season Opener 05/08/05
Moroka Swallows kick off their 2005/06 Castle Premiership campaign when they take on Santos at the Bidvest Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Birds have been very busy in the off-season with a number of friendlies and the team is well prepared ahead of tomorrow's game.

The club's management have also secured the services of a number of new players as they look to challenge for league and cup honours.

Birds MD Gavin Bernstein confirmed that newly-signed players Simba Marumo and Lefa Tsutsulupa will be rady to take to the field if selected by coach Gavin Hunt, however, players such as Mark Haskins,  Mame Niang and Enrico Botes are unlikely to be available for selection as they are still in the process of being registered.

Other players who are not available for the game are Goodman Mazibuko, Ivan Winstanley, Shaun Permall, Daniel Matsau and Cecil Oerson, who may start the game on the bench.

Skipper Mazibuko confirmed that he will not be available to take up his usual position in the engine room.

"I have been struggling with a groin injury since last season and during the off-season I thought it had come right, but the problem is now back and I will be out for a few weeks still," the disappointed captain said.

Mazibuko did however say that he will be down at the ground tomorrow to support his team-mates.

"It will be frustrating to be on the sidelines, but I will be watching the game tomorrow and I am confident that the guys can pick up all three points," he said.

It won't be easy against an experienced People's Team, who will be looking for an improved performance on last season's showing now that they are under the guidance of former Bidvest Wits coach Roger de Sa.

Due to the fact that the Rand Stadium is being renovated, tomorrow's game will be played at the Bidvest Stadium, which will make de Sa feel right at home after he spent eight seasons there with the Clever Boys.

Santos have not always been at their best on away trips to Johannesburg, but de Sa is confident of turning this record around:

"I understand that Santos have not done well against Swallows in Johannesburg," he said.

"Fortunately, I've managed to put together a pretty good record against Swallows at Bidvest."

Having come close to relegation last season, De Sa is determined to turn the team's fortune's around.

"We are too good a side to struggle the way we did last season. I have a good blend of players and all of them want to be successful this season," he added.

By Anthony McLennan


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