The old Soweto giants Moroka Swallows FC are back after five years in the lower divisions to return to the Absa Premiership where the Dube Birds belong.
These days known as Swallows FC, the club has a job to survive the first season in Mzansi's top division by doing ‘a Stellenbosch FC’... but what exactly is a Stellenbosch?
Doing a Stellenbosch is a successful transition to the big time of the Absa Premiership, a very unforgiving league that can eat you alive if you’re unprepared rookies.
The Cape Winelands club finished in 10th position, just three points off a top eight spot and above established teams like Golden Arrows and Chippa United.
Surviving to earn your belonging does not really demand extraordinary execution, like Stellies, Swallows has to keep the coach that got them to where they are, maintain the core playing squad and not just sign any available Absa Premiership-experienced players.
The great news for Dube Birds followers is that Maswaiswai has already ticked off the above areas but is it enough? Should they do more?
🧠 Technical Team
Swallows have already confirmed the retention of coach Brandon Truter, which is key for continuity. Truter knows his players inside out, and there’s no questioning the winning mentality and form that was created towards winning the GladAfrica Championship. It matters less that the PSL is a different league with higher quality opposition. A team that knows how to play and win together is a formula Swallows have right now.
Stellies did the exact same with the keeping of coach Steve Barker when detractors screamed for ‘an experienced coach.’
🏆 Winning Squad
Stellenbosch kept the heart of its starting team from NFD: Mogamad De Geode and Sibusiso Mthethwa in defence, Jarrod Moroole, Nkanyiso Zungu in midfield, as well as the leading strikers Iqraam Rayners and Waseem Isaacs who had over 30 goals between them.
According to the leading player statistics website Transfermarkt, Swallows had up to 47 players in 2019/20. Like any club, a big chunk of the squad did not play a key role in lifting the title. With that said, those not surplus to requirements will be replaced with better talent and the PSL experience everyone always talks about.
✍🏾 New Signings
To build any strong team in football, you need a quality spine. A strong spine not only refers to talent, but experience, and that’s where the Absa Premiership names should step in. Get a top goalkeeper, central defenders, central midfielders and center forwards.
Stellies signed some PSL experience in Robin Johannes, Morgan Gould, Granwald Scott, Nyiko Mobbie, Asavela Mbekile, Mpho Matsi, Ovidy Karuru as well as some international experience in the Dutch keeper Boy De Jong and Zambia CAF champions league and AFCON winner Nathan Sakala from the mighty TP Mazembe in midfield.
Swallows have already done business in these areas with the veteran midfielder Musa Nyatama (close to 300 PSL games) and the striker Ruzaigh Gamildien. Truter now needs to find a central defender, goalkeeper or more.
With just a few weeks before the official return and start of the 2020/21 season, Swallows have taken Stellenbosch’s blueprint, and could do even better.