Johannesburg - AmaZulu coach Roger Palmgren believes Moroka Swallows could be negatively affected by the loss of coach Gordon Igesund when the new domestic soccer season kicks off this weekend.
The two clubs meet in the opening round of the MTN8 at the Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday, with the hosts having a new man at the helm in the form of Zeca Marques.
Ex-boss Igesund, who led the club to a runners-up finish in the Premiership, was appointed as Bafana Bafana coach during the closed season.
“When a coach leaves on a positive note, I believe it could be something negative for the club,” said Palmgren on Wednesday.
“In this case the club was more or less right on the top.
“The expectation will be that there's only one position more to achieve, otherwise there will be disappointment for the coach and the pressure will hit him directly.”
However, Palmgren has backed Marques to be a success in the long run for the Soweto club, who only missed out on the title by two points to Orlando Pirates following a dramatic last day of action.
“Swallows have obviously lost a brilliant coach, but there’s an equally good replacement that has taken over,” he said.
“They’ve added some new players and I respect them very much.”
Usuthu chiefs have made no secret of their desire to improve their standing in South African football, openly declaring that the pressure will be on Palmgren to deliver a top four league finish along with a major cup trophy.
But the Swedish coach again played down any additional stress on his players.
“I think pressure is always something you put on yourself as an individual. That’s a mental thing in life," he said.
“We’ll try our best. These goals are the ones set by the directors for the last four or five years now."
Palmgren confirmed that midfielder Stanley Kgatla - suffering from a leg injury - was a doubt for Sunday’s game, while confirming that new Liberia international signing Dulee Johnson was unlikely to play because his legal documents were not yet in order.
However, Sifiso Vilakazi, who joined from Wits, was in line for his debut along with Prince Hlela, formerly of Bloemfontein Celtic.
The format of the MTN8 also means that three victories will secure the title, but Palmgren felt it was far more complicated than that.
“If you look at logic and the mathematics of it, then yes, this cup is the easiest to win,” he added.
“But remember that the best eight teams in South Africa are involved, so it’s a very tough task to reach the final in the first place.”