Swallows happy out of limelight
Johannesburg - While a championship is a realistic possibility for Moroka Swallows, coach Gordon Igesund says he is more than happy to see the spotlight taken by the country's 'big four' teams.
Swallows, the previously dormant giant of South African football, are enduring their best season in two decades with Igesund at the helm of the club's turnaround strategy.
"We don't need the attention. Let's leave that for Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United," Igesund said on Wednesday.
"We are exactly where we want to be, and I really couldn't have asked more from my players considering last season.
"As far as I'm concerned we are still fighting for a top eight place, and would be happy with 30 points at the halfway mark."
Igesund, who has won league titles with four different teams, knows how to quietly go about work, having lifted two of the crowns with unfancied Manning Rangers and Santos.
Swallows' best league finish in the last 20 years was second in 1993, and they have lingered near the relegation zone since the Premier Soccer League started in 1996.
They narrowly survived relegation last season because of a better goal difference, but have drastically improved in this campaign.
With two matches to play before the recess, Swallows are in fifth place in the Premiership table with 24 points after 13 games.
While Igesund does not want to count his chickens before they hatch, to prevent any egg on his face come May next year, he vaguely admitted his charges had a fair chance of having a crack at a first championship since 1965, in the old SA Soccer League.
"If we win the next two games we will be on 30 points. The league winning team from last season [Pirates] had 60 points when the season ended," he said.
"We have been happy with the performance, considering that we do not have the depth of the big clubs. We will soldier on and keep fighting.
"I have a magnificent squad of 22 players, but if a player is injured or suspended we feel it."
Swallows face Platinum Stars at Moruleng Stadium this weekend before closing the year with a home tie against one of Igesund's former clubs, Maritzburg United, at Dobsonville Stadium next week.
Then there is a two-month break, enforced by the Africa Cup of Nations, and their next match against Santos on February 15 could make or break his side's top eight ambitions.
"It won't be easy because we will have to start from scratch, almost like a second pre-season," Igesund said.
"I have given my players off until January 10.
"I won't have anything special planned for the break until we resume our campaign in February."