HIGH HOPES: New Moroka Swallows coach Julio Cesar Leal.Pic: Mohau Mofokeng. 19/06/08, © Sowetan.
HIGH HOPES: New Moroka Swallows coach Julio Cesar Leal.Pic: Mohau Mofokeng. 19/06/08, © Sowetan.

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

Moroka Swallows' newly appointed coach Julio Cesar Leal arrived in South Africa on Wednesday to take charge of the Birds in the new season.

The former AmaZulu coach, who played an important role in ensuring that Usuthu survived relegation in the 2006-07 season, left the coastal side after a short spell.

Yesterday Leal went to Swallows' training to observe the team being put through their paces by Eddie Lewis.

Lewis, who is in the side's technical staff, started training Swallows since Monday.

Sipho Xulu, the club's manager, said Leal will only take over the reins next Monday.

Meanwhile Xulu added that Orlando Stadium, the former mecca of South African football, will be their home ground when the reconstruction is completed next year.

This venue, home to some classic soccer encounters, was demolished in 2006 and the rebuilding process started in earnest the same year.

Xulu said they were eager to relocate to the venue that holds fond memories for the side.

"It has been our wish to take soccer back to the people and also to revive and woo back our disgusted fans.

"We're going to play all our games there and we hope the players will perform far above themselves," said Xulu.

He said most of their supporters were elderly people who were unable to attend their games outside Soweto.

"So in our supporters' drive that we'll put in place before the league kicks off we're going to introduce a number of innovations to lure our supporters to our home games."

Barbara Creecy, Gauteng MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation had stated at an earlier press briefing, that the Birds were intending to use Orlando Stadium as their home ground.

She added that the stadium was about to be completed and was earmarked to be used as a 2010 World Cup training venue.

Xulu said seven of their players did not renew their contracts for the new season. They are Tebogo Monyai, Edzai Kasinauyo, Songwe Chalwe, James Chamanga, Brent Geyer, Bjorn Gugger and George Hummel.

"Their contracts expire at the end of the month and soon they will be free agents," said Xulu.