Moroka Swallows coach Rainer Zobel called on his under-performing side to recover from a poor start to the league season when they play Kaizer Chiefs in an Absa Premiership Soweto derby at the Dobsonville Stadium on Wednesday night.
The former Bayern Munich star was worried that his side had collected only one point from four league matches this season. The final straw came when Birds lost 1-0 away to Maritzburg United on Friday night.
Zobel, who said he would ring the changes for the midweek clash, wanted to change his players’ mindsets as well.
“This has been a very bad start to the league for us and cannot continue,” he said. “The players were not 100% committed and focused against Maritzburg and I am not going to accept second best.”
However, Zobel knows that even a win against their traditional enemies will not solve his problems.
“Our problems cannot be solved overnight with a win over Chiefs,” he said. “Beating Chiefs will be a big help but I need to start changing things to get results.
“I would have expected us to have had at least five or six points at this stage, but instead we have only one point, which is not good enough for a club like Swallows with the calibre of players we have. It will take four to six weeks to get out of this mess.”
But Zobel, who guided his side to the final of the MTN8 competition where they lost on a penalty shootout to Orlando Pirates earlier this month, said losing that match had not been the cause of the Birds’ league slump.
“The reason we are in a bad position is because the players are not motivated when we play clubs like Maritzburg and [Mpumalanga Black] Aces,” he said.
“They are always fired up and motivated against Chiefs, Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United, yet when it comes to playing the smaller sides we do not perform. It is all in the players’ minds and that has to change as well.
“I know that the players are looking forward to playing Chiefs, but they must remember that the other matches against less popular sides are equally important and we have to beat all of these sides if we are to be successful.
“We showed in the MTN8 that we are a decent side capable of winning trophies, and now we need to take the field against Chiefs with determination and try and get our first three points of the season.”
Both teams are minus key players. Birds skipper Siyabonga Nomvethe is out with a hand injury while Amakhosi are minus talisman Siphiwe Tshabalala, who injured his hip during Bafana Bafana’s gutsy 0-0 draw in an African Nations Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone in Freetown recently.
Chiefs keeper Itumeleng Khune, who was another star of that goalless draw in Freetown, said he hoped his strikers would bring their shooting boots to the derby.
Amakhosi stumbled to an unconvincing 0-0 draw in their league match against Platinum Stars at the Rand Stadium at the weekend.
“We are playing well and in training we practise shooting, but somehow we fall down in matches. We need to convert the chances we create,” Khune said.
“But playing Swallows is never easy, especially away from home. It would be as good a time as any to rediscover our scoring form.” — Sapa