Wounded Bucs new challenge for Birds
FOLLOWING their cup heroics, Moroka Swallows turn their attention back to the Absa Premiership and tomorrow night's fixture against a wounded Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium.
Swallows were 6-5 aggregate winners against Mamelodi Sundowns over two legs of a dramatic MTN8 semifinal.
They face a Bucs side on the rebound from an at times tempestuous 3-0 semifinal defeat to SuperSport United at Orlando, which saw striker Benni McCarthy red-carded, scuffles in the stands and general crowd misbehaviour.
Birds coach Zeca Marques said this week his main aim has been getting his players' focus back to a crucial league fixture against treble winners Bucs.
"According to what we set out for this month, which ends with Orlando Pirates, I'm very happy with what the players have achieved so far," Marques said.
"The guys have been really focusing on the next game. We know the importance of the match - it's a Soweto derby, there's a lot at stake. There's the pride of the club, and of the players, and we're going to do our best to walk away with something."
Marques said there is some concern over a defence that has leaked seven goals in three games - the two legs of the MTN semi and a 1-1 league draw with Ajax Cape Town.
"Defensively, I think we're getting much better. We're holding on for longer periods of the game, so that's a positive. We'll keep working on the defence because it's one of the areas where we want to improve."
The Birds coach said defender Luvhengo Mungomeni, who was substituted against Sundowns on Sunday, is available for selection. "He's fine. Papi just had cramps at the end."
Star forward Lerato Chabangu was rested during training on Wednesday with a knock to his knee, but should also be ready for Pirates.
McCarthy is suspended for Pirates, which could see Zambian Collins Mbesuma fielded as the target man up front, while Bongani Ndulula is another option.