Preview - Swallows v Leopards
A reborn Moroka Swallows side will take on a troubled Black Leopards team in a Castle Premiership match at Germiston Stadium on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 3.45pm).
Swallows's recent resurgence has been rather emphatic.
A bad start to the season, with a string of poor results, saw the 'Dube Birds' faithful vying for coach Gavin Hunt's blood, but not only have they gained fierce confidence - that saw them finishing 2006 in an impressive seventh spot on 20 points after 13 matches - but the 'Birds' have also showed more poise and verve than ever before.
After being chastised for picking a dismal parade of half-baked players and struggling to deal with the mounting pressure from a fan-base aching for a renaissance at the troubled nest, Hunt - a straight-talking no-nonsense coach - seems to have finally found the right formula, but whether his boys can end a drought of more than four decades of failing to win the league championship remains to be seen.
"It was a difficult year and I am glad we managed to claw our way to the top eight," said Hunt.
"When we renovated our squad, many people did not give us an inch to make it, especially after losing a string of matches."
"But I knew what I was doing and I am glad we finished 2006 on a high," continued the former Leopards coach.
"It will be hard to beat Leopards, but if we stick to the basics and continue where we left off, I don't see why we cannot start the New Year in a convincing way.
"The title pendulum has not swung to any team as yet and I believe beating our opponents will ensure we are steadily but slowly getting there with other contenders," concluded Hunt.
Meanwhile, the future looks bleak for the Limpompo-based club - who are currently lying 12th on the league table on 12 points.
Having lost their best strikers, Rudzani Ramudzuli and Mulondo Sikhwivhilu, to Orlando Pirates, journeyman-coach Mlungisi 'Professor' Ngubane also jumped ship, which prompted the appointment of Eddie May.
A former Bush Bucks mentor, and their third coach in the space of five months, Leopards will be hoping that May can steer them away from the dreaded big chop.
"We must forget about last year. We are entering the most challenging period of the league and yes, we are tired of fighting relegation every season," said Leopards skipper Fernando Matola.
"We have lost our best strikers and we must quickly fill that void or we will struggle to score goals."
"However, I have enough confidence in our new coach and I hope he brings the much-needed success. Swallows are undoubtedly on song - but we can beat them."
Moroka Swallows - Evans Gwekwerere
Four goals in a Swallows jersey has already made the young striker a favourite amongst supporters and he will be keen to add to his tally against a struggling Leopards side on Sunday.
Black Leopards - Fernando Matola
'Nando' will have to be in top form to keep the in-form Swallows attack at bay at the Germiston Stadium, but the departure of strikers Mulondo Sikhwivhilu and Rudzani Ramudzuli means the defender will have to stand up and be counted in grand style.
Match preview by Patrick Baloyi/Backpagepix