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Upstarts face big test against champions

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Swallows have been punching above their weight and their coach has on occasion admitted that the players have been surprised by their success in the elite league.

Brandon Truter coach of Swallows FC and Ruzaigh Gamildien of Swallows FC Awarded coach and Player of the Month during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 Monthly Awards on January 19 at Randburg AFC. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

UNDER-pressure champions Mamelodi Sundowns face an acid test against Premiership upstarts Moroka Swallows in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville.

Star-studded Sundowns have been anything but convincing of late, and after their uninspiring midweek goalless draw against Celtic, coach Manqoba Mngqithi was moved to admit that he has genuine concerns.

“It is just not looking good when you are not scoring in two matches in a row,” said Mngqithi. “Being a team like Mamelodi Sundowns you’re expected to score, not taking away the fact that their goalkeepers put in some good saves.”

Last weekend, Sundowns were a shade lucky to emerge with a point in a goalless draw against Tshwane rivals SuperSport United.

Off the field, the well-heeled Sundowns have also played second fiddle to the newly-promoted Swallows. Brandon Truter, Swallows coach, has just bagged his second successive PSL Coach of the Month award.

With a coaching triumvirate like Mngqithi, Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena it took some doing for Truter to take the gong yet again.

Meanwhile, Ruzaigh Gamildien, Swallows striker, has landed the latest Player of the Month award.

All of this suggests that Sundowns are there for the taking and that Swallows have the ammunition, based on the records, to inflict defeat on Saturday.

However, Swallows have been punching above their weight and Truter has on occasions admitted that the players have been surprised by their success in the elite league.

Junaid Sait of Swallows celebrates goal with teammates during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 match between Swallows and Cape Town City at Dobsonville Stadium, Johannesburg, on January 5. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

During midweek, Swallows surrendered the lead to struggling Chippa and forced to settle for a 1-1 draw. Victory would have taken them to the top of the log. It was clear in that match that Swallows lacked the knock-out punch.

The prospect of defeating Sundowns, the 10-time league champions, maybe too daunting for Swallows to contemplate. They could suffer stage fright since the club last played top-flight football five seasons ago.

Sundowns will be boosted by the return of Uruguayan Gaston Sirino who has been out for a couple of months. He could provide the spark to ensure the team fires on all cylinders.

“I feel happy to be back in the side after being away for a long time,” said Sirino.

“It’s a great feeling to come back and help the team with an assist or a goal whenever I can, and I just want to go out and work hard for the side.

“This season we just want to make sure we keep the standard from last season and bring more accolades to the club.

“We want to dominate the league and go further in CAF Champions League. We will come up against very good teams and we do have the players that can go out there and win the league,” Sirino said.

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