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The Birds soar back to the Premiership


Swallows seal their return to the top flight after five years in the wilderness

Swallows FC’s Kagiso Malinga celebrates his goal with teammates during their GladAfrica Championship match against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila at Makhulong Stadium on Sunday.

AFTER five years in the football wilderness, Swallows will fly high in the top flight again next season.

That was confirmed after the Birds gained automatic promotion from the GladAfrica Championship to the Premiership in the season finale.

It has been a season of wonders for the Soweto-based side. Not only did they finish at the summit of the second-tier division with 57 points but they achieved the improbable considering they were drowning in the wilderness of the third tier-division – the ABC Motsepe league – just a season ago.

No, they didn’t automatically secure their status back to the Championship this season as they had to buy the status of Maccabi FC. But it was perhaps there that they rewrote a lifelong lesson: that money can actually buy you happiness, after all!

The cash injection was devised by businessman David Mogashoa and astute politician Panyaza Lesufi. And not only did their investment pay off as Swallows walked away with a cool R3 million cheque, gold medals and trophy after their 3-0 win over Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila in Tembisa but they brought much needed delight to many souls across the country.

The Dube Birds are not only one of the oldest and richly supported teams in Mzansi as they boast a 73-year existence but they are part of the Soweto big three along with Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

Their return to the top flight will be widely celebrated even if it was as Swallows FC (without Moroka).

Granted they couldn’t retain their original “Moroka Swallows” header as they owe Fifa a whopping sum of money but that they are working their way back to resurgence is one of the biggest comebacks that has been witnessed in South African football.

The Birds were far from being tipped for the Championship crown as they had an underwhelming start under coach Zeca Marques. But such has been their tremendous growth and maturity under Brandon Truter that they made it look easier to surpass Ajax Cape Town who had held the summit seat for the better part of the season.

Meanwhile, the Urban Warriors will hope that they can still return to the Premiership next season via the gruelling relegation/promotion play-off as their 3-0 win over Mbombela United could only ensure a second-place finish.

Ajax will play the three-game round-robin fixtures against TTM, who are guaranteed a top-three finish despite their loss, and a top-flight side that will finish 15th in the Absa Premiership.