Forced to play their first game as Maccabi FC as the Premier Soccer League is yet to finalise the name change, Moroka Swallows got off to a positive start with a 1-1 draw against TS Sporting at their old hunting ground, the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It was a special day, an emotional one too as throngs of Swallows stadium trickled in as early as 12pm in anticipation of the return of their beloved Dube Birds to the professional ranks after a two-year hiatus.
There was a sombre moment just before the game started as Swallows supporters sang a song about their troubles having finally ceased. The song “Mathata a fedile” which is seSotho for “the problems are over” reverberated in the stands at Dobsonville Stadium moments before the start of the GladAfrica Championship match.
Veteran defender, Thapelo Tshilo opened the scoring for the home side with a header just 11 minutes the match, sending the crowds into wild celebrations. But Abantu Bemthetho found the equaliser in the 32nd minute through Katlego Mojela who was a constant thorn in the Maccabi side.
“The youngsters were under pressure to do well. The crowds were here. Expectation was huge. It was a start of a new beginning for the club and it’s not easy to play under this pressure for a lot of the youngsters. It was the first time some of them playing in front of this massive crowd,” said Marques.
“But there were a lot of positives. We defended well and our counter attack was good, we had more shots on target. Their keeper was kept busy. When I look at it overall, its good. We obviously would have liked to win but it doesn’t always go according to plan,” he added.
Maccabi’s next game is away at Cape Umoya United and Marques said they must be ready for a fight after the Spirited One’s loss at Tshakhuma in their first game.
“We go away now, they lost and will obviously be looking to do better at home. But if we want to do well in this league we have to meet the challenges head on. We think about a game at a time,” he said.
Tshakhuma 2 (W. Makhubu; N. Mgaga) Cape Umoya 1 (M. Khanyi)
Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila got their campaign off to a winning start, making their intentions of being among the title chasers quite clear early on. Wonderboy Makhubu drew first blood for the home side and Nhlanhla Mgaga made it 2-0 before Mzomuhle Khanyi got one back for the visitors.
AmaTuks 1 (N. Dlamini) Steenberg United 0
The Championship new boys Steenberg started on a losing side as Zipho Dlangalala’s University of Pretoria showed their experience with a hard fought 1-0 win. Nqobeko Dlamini was the hero of the day with his late strike enough to earn them their first three points.
TS Galaxy 0 Jomo Cosmos 0
There were no goals in the Championship’s first televised game of the season as the Nedbank Cup champions couldn’t get past Jomo Sono’s stubborn Ezenkosi side. It was however a free flowing game and both had chances.
Richards Bay 2 (S. Vilane; D Saal) JDR Stars 2 (O. Ncube; V. Mncube)
The Hammer Boys showed that they will not be pushovers with a gutsy come from behind display to salvage a point away at the Rich Boys. Veteran Siyabonga Vilane opened the scoring before Devon Saal made it 2-0 from the penalty spot. But Owethu Ncube and Vusimuzi Mncube retained parity for the visitors.
Ajax CT 3 (G. Margeman x2; E. Rodgers) FS Stars 2 (D. Gozar; G. Sakuhawa)
A meeting of old Premiership rivals served the fans at Athlone Stadium a riveting five goal thriller. Grant Margeman was in his element scoring a brace for the Urban Warriors with Eleazar Rodgers also scoring against his former side. Daniel Gozar and Gift Sakuhawa’s goals were however not enough to save Ea Lla Koto the blushes on their first match in the Championship.
*The matches involving Uthongathi FC and Royal Eagles are postponed until pending legal matters regarding the ownership of the two clubs are resolved.