The halfway mark of the 2012/13 season has been an interesting one for the Birds technical team.
After a disappointing run, that saw the team go on a nine-game winless streak, links to potential signings during the January transfer bazaar have come in fast and hard.
Zeca Marques admits that there are concerns, after enduring the backlash of the fans' fury during those challenging times. The head coach has accepted the challenge of getting the Birds back into full flight with enthusiasm.
Instead of the traditional Coach's Column, Marques spoke to morokaswallows.co.za to give the latest update on the squad. He outlined his plans during the break, explains why he hasn't rushed into making a signing, Siyabonga Nomvethe and promoting from development structures.
This is one long halfway break. Does it feel like pre-season all over again? "In a way it really does. In all aspects it's a mini pre-season. Just to get the guys focused and sharp again."
What has been the program of action in the Birds Nest? "We started on the field, working with the ball. This week is really the only week where we focused solely on fitness. The program is structured in a way that we peak on the 13th. We've got to be sharp, mentally and physically."
There is expectation that the club would raid the transfer market. How are you dealing with all the transfer expectations? "Expectations are always raised. Unfortunately due to our results in the last few games towards the end of the year we weren't doing well; so people expect that we have to go out into the market and buy. That's not the reality of the story here. The reality is that Siyabonga Nomvethe is back, we missed him in our striking department.
WHERE THE BIRDS NEED STRENGTHENING
Which other departments are you looking at strengthening? "Defence is the department we are looking at and we have not stopped looking, but we are not going to go out there and just sign anyone who is available or hasn't got a club or whatever the case may be. We have to make sure we make the right call. The priority going forward is that Swallows make the right signings. I know that our supporters feel that we have to go out there and sign, but there's no real need. I mean if you take a look at our midfield, I mean we have Lerato Chabangu, David Mathebula, Lefa Tsutsulupa, Joseph Makhanya, Dikgang Mabalane; the squad is there. It was unfortunately brought upon us because of the results, due to defensive errors by us and that was it. But I think we have addressed that."
A lot of players have tried their luck with us, what is the idea behind having trialists in the squad? "The reason I like the opportunity to have people on trial is because we then have the chance to analyse the character of the player, technical ability; which are some of the key aspects of what I want to raise within our team. Also the intelligence of the player, decision-making, the positional play, the responsibility of his role on the field is important. That I can only really see if he's training with us. It doesn't mean that if the player has played with A, B and C he can play with us. We have to look at what we want to address, going forward I want to improve the quality of our team which means improving the quality of the players that we sign."
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
Lerato Chabangu is away with Bafana Bafana, it must be exciting that this is happening during your tenure at the club. "I'm obviously excited for Lerato, I'm excieted for our club because we can look with pride and say 'that's our player, he's from Swallows'. It's a feather in our cap that we have managed to get Lerato back on track. Obviously having Gordon Igesund there does help, because knows Lerato better than most. I'm happy that we were also able to lend a hand there in the last six months. I'm very delighted when I see him on the field to say 'that's our man'."
Any potential that we will see some players from our development structures making the step up this season? "I will be having a meeting with Patrick Mabedi and Goodman Mazibuko, where we plan to identify at least five players that we can sign for the reserves. We want to start getting a feeling of what they are capable of doing."