Marques confident after MTN8 victory
ZECA Marques and his Moroka Swallows team have stepped out of the shadow of former coach Gordon Igesund by reaching the MTN8 final, the new Birds boss said after his side's semifinal victory against Mamelodi Sundowns at Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday.
The Beautiful Birds reached the final in swashbuckling style, drawing the first leg 3-3 and on Sunday producing a devastating three-goal burst in the opening 20 minutes to eventually run out 3-2 winners (6-5 on aggregate). They will meet SuperSport United in the final on September 22.
Igesund worked a near-miracle by taking Swallows from near-certainties for relegation in 2010-11 to runners-up last season. It was never going to be easy for Marques, who was Igesund's assistant, to fill the four-time league winner's shoes when Igesund left in the off-season to become Bafana Bafana coach.
Marques said reaching the MTN final will give his side the confidence they need for the season.
"The pressure on me as coach stays and will always be there - but I can tell you this: I love it when a plan comes together," he said.
"There's nothing like proving people wrong, and that's what motivates me. And I keep telling my players that we've got a lot to prove this year.
"I'll keep driving that because it's not over yet - this is just the beginning. After today we've got to focus on the final. After the final we've got Orlando Pirates in the league, and then we've got the rest of the season."
Swallows' victory in the two legs against Downs followed a 3-1 opening defeat to Platinum Stars in the Premiership.
Speculation was that an ageing Swallows squad might not have another successful year left in them. Marques said the MTN run, where they also beat AmaZulu 2-0 in the first round, proved that the Birds can be competitive again this season. "We know it's not going to be easy. It's about raising your game and playing above yourself ..."