Johannesburg - Moroka Swallows will need to be better in defence and display more unity if they are to challenge for Premiership honours, coach Zeca Marques said on Thursday.
The Birds take on Wits in Johannesburg on Friday, bidding for a fourth win from their five opening league fixtures.
Swallows have made a solid start to their latest campaign and have racked up three impressive wins in the league, including a surprising derby victory over Orlando Pirates on the opening weekend of the new season.
But Marques has called on the Birds to focus on improved defence and warned against conceding at crucial stages in the game.
“Our defence is an ongoing problem. We try and work on it as much as possible but it's a never-ending job,” Marques said.
Swallows went from leading against Polokwane City in their most recent league outing, to trailing before half-time, courtesy of a quick-fire double strike from City, leaving a seething Marques watching on from the side.
“We conceded a goal from a set-piece which comes down to players not being able to read the game,” Marques said.
"Those are things you cannot teach as a coach."
Despite the negatives, Marques will be buoyed by the display from his attackers, in particular, Lerato Chabangu.
The Bafana Bafana international has catapulted himself to the top of the Premiership goalscoring list in no time at all, netting twice against City in midweek to take his tally to four, from as many games.
Swallows will look to draw on Chabangu’s pace and power across a compact Bidvest Stadium pitch, where the Clever Boys are looking for a reprieve from a difficult couple of weeks.
Back-to-back defeats to Orlando Pirates in the MTN8, followed by a lacklustre 3-1 league defeat to Ajax Cape Town on Tuesday, saw coach Gavin Hunt cut a deflated figure pitch-side this week and a defeat against the league’s surprise package early in the season will leave Hunt with plenty of pondering to do.
A win for Hunt would see Wits climb above Swallows in the league standings, while at the same time apply pressure on Kaizer Chiefs at the top of the table, who have already opened a gap over both Wits and Swallows.
In Friday’s only other game, Chippa United host traditional Cape rivals Ajax, though with the game being played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Chippa’s new home, derby status has fallen away.