The Moroka Swallows management promised to revamp the 'Beautiful Birds' fortunes this season and they have so far lived up to their promise by re-launching the club logo and hiring new personnel - from the club's management and technical staff and including new coach Julio Cesar Leal.
The Brazilian-born mentor, who is hailed by many as a master tactician, has been tasked with bringing back the good old days when Swallows was one of the feared teams in South Africa. And, according to the new 'Birds' boss, he is up for the task at hand!
Speaking exclusively to the Swallows website's Khaya Ndubane, Leal introduced himself to the fans and revealed his plans for Swallows for the upcoming season.
Khaya Ndubane (KN): Hi Julio, welcome to the 'Beautiful Birds'!
Julio Leal (JL): Hi, Khaya, it's nice to be here.
(KN): Coach, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
(JL): "I was born and bred in Brazil. I played amateur football for various teams there (in Brazil), but I never turned professional because of schooling. When I was 20 years old I attended a physical university in Brazil where I obtained my coaching diploma in 1974. From there I started working as a coach for youth teams of big Brazilian teams like Flumenese, Flamingo, Vasco and America. I was then approached by the Brazilian federation and they offered me a coaching job for the junior national team."
(KN): Tell us about you working experiences abroad.
(JL): "I have worked in Trinidad and Tobago, Central America, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Dakar. And, as you know, in the 2006/07 season I was the coach of AmaZulu here in South Africa."
(KN): Julio, who do you look up to in terms of coaching?
(JL): "I don't have any particular coach I look up to really because as a coach I have my own methodology (in terms of coaching). That said, I do admire Claudio Coutinhu, who coached Brazil in 1978. I also admire former South African coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, whom I have worked with several times before."
(KN): Coach, let's move onto things at Swallows. You have been here for several weeks already, how are things at Swallows?
(JL): "I am enjoying my stay at Swallows. Everyone has been accommodating - the management, the players and, of course, the supporters. Some of them (the supporters), are even attending our training sessions."
(KN): What made you decide to join Swallows?
(JL): "During my talks with Swallows CEO Leon Prins he mentioned the fact that he wanted to revamp Swallows' fortunes and he wanted to bring back the glory days. I decided then that I wanted to be part of this Swallows revolution. Leon and I are both aware that this will take time, but we both know that it can be achievable."
(KN): What are your short-term plans for Swallows?
(JL): "My short-term plan is to introduce winning football. By that I mean I want my team to play a nice brand of football, but at the same time I want the team to win games, so that the players can have that winning mentality. Secondly, my aim is to take the team to a top four finish in the 2008/09 season, but if an opportunity for us to win the league this season arises we'll take it."
(KN): And your medium-to-long-term plans?
(JL): "Basically, I have a three-year plan. As said, this season I want a top-four finish. Then, the next season, I want to take the team to within reach of the Absa Premiership top position and the season after that we want to win the league."
(KN): Coach, let's leave it here for now, but we will continue our conversation soon. Thanks for your time.
(JL): "Thanks for speaking to me, Khaya. I looking forward to our next conversation."