|Gloves are off, the jacket is on: Zeca Marques|
ZECA MARQUES has used “the power of the mind” to take his unfashionable Moroka Swallows to the top of the PSL table five games in to the new season.
The Porto-born 52-year-old took over at Dobsonville when Gordon Igesund went off to coach South Africa and after a tough first season, the jacket-thrower’s methods are beginning to pay dividends as they jockey for leadership among FIVE clubs currently locked on 11 points.
Talking on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on Ballz radio (see video below), Marques and I discussed our formative years of playing at left back before he explained: “Being top is a great feeling, testament to what we’ve done for the last four games. Our performances have been solid.
“I was disappointed we didn’t win against Kaizer Chiefs and AmaZulu, somehow that one slipped away from us - but I’m happy with the win over PSL leaders SuperSport United on Wednesday night.”
With another point picked up in a 1-1 draw against Maritzburg United on Saturday, Zeca insists: “One guarantee I can give you is this: we’re going to go out there and upset the apple cart. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve got the ambition. My players have got the vision, there’s a new sense of belief in the squad. More self-assurance.
“I think the guys are starting to realise: You know what, maybe we’ve got an outside chance here.”
Marques, a very different character to his predecessor Igesund, insists: “Gone are the days when Swallows are going to step back for any team. I keep telling our guys, the players are the most important resource, not the finances or the attendances.
“I focus on tactical stuff and the mind. If we start believing in our team, work together as a unit – like rebels – we can surprise anyone.
“We stand back for nobody. I’m happy with that. On the psychological side we’re coming through.”
Amid twitter gossip about “the three mlungus at the back”, Marques laughed: “I’ve gone back to the old school of thought. Bring in two white kids at the back. Take no prisoners, aggressive. And it’s working for us!
“Levi (Mokgothu) is an exciting you left back, Roger (de Costa) and Lenny (Cohen) as the two centre-backs, Papi at right back. Giorgi Nergadze just in front of them. You and I have spoken about this many times: no more nonsense. We see it as a challenge.
“I’m a great believer that we are capable of doing something special. I’ve made that statement to our team. Don’t quote me! But I’ve said our team will be a study case at the end of the season. We’re going to prove people wrong this year.
“You can only do that with the right mentality. Take no shit. Don’t be intimidated by big names of whatever. WE COMPETE. That’s the approach Neal. I’ve been around. Too many times we get complacent, try to patronise people, put too much respect on Sundowns, Chiefs and Pirates.
“Who the hell are they? Half the players at Pirates and Chiefs wouldn’t make my side at the moment.
“The human being is our greatest resource. The mind is our biggest asset. That’s what we use.”
But amid the strong words, Marques has a word for his old Troyeville goalkeeper Roger De Sa, the Orlando Pirates coach, who faces Al Ahly in a win-or-bust African Champions League clash in Soweto on Sunday.
Marques said: “Support football, number one. Champions League games are special to the Soweto people. Our support will encourage them, bring the best out of them.
“May the best team win. Obviously, with Roger being my friend, I want Pirates to win!
“You know what, at the end of the day, Pirates are representing our country. Go and support, for the pride of our country, as a nation. Go and support Pirates on Sunday.”
BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 10am-noon. See the Ballz channel on Youtube for our growing collection of interviews like the one above.
You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.
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