Fani Madida after Swallows heartbreak: 'It's a painful one'

Fani Madida after Swallows heartbreak: 'It's a painful one'

There is no doubt that Swallows FC have performed at a higher level since the arrival of new head coach Dylan Kerr at the club, but the fact they have just a single win from five to show for it leaves them stuck in the relegation quagmire.

The Birds let a first half lead slip to lose 2-1 to 10-man Cape Town City on Saturday, a loss described as “painful” by assistant coach Fani Madida, who is in the dugout while Kerr waits for his work permit. The latter’s input is reduced to barking orders from the stands.

Swallows were by far the better team in the first half and fully deserved their 1-0 lead at the break, a continuation of their fine performance against Orlando Pirates on Tuesday that resulted in a 1-1 draw. They are starting to play with confidence again, rather than the withdrawn, terrified team that took to the pitch in the last few months under former coach Brandon Truter, who were far more scared of losing than trying to impose themselves on matches and go for the win.  

They were gifted a goal for Monnapule Saleng after a poor pass by Thato Mokeke, and also thwarted by the excellent Hugo Marques in the City goal as chance after chance went begging. The turning points for City was, ironically, the red card for their defender Abbubaker Mobara, who could have no complaints as he hauled down Ruzaigh Gamildien just outside the box. This led to a change in tactics and suddenly the home side had more focus and intensity with their backs to the wall.

Nathan Fasika bundled home an equaliser from a corner for his first goal in SA football, before City stole the points with a superb free-kick from Mpho Makola in the final eight minutes. “It’s a painful one because first half we had a helluva game. But second half ... because they were one player down, we thought it was going to be easy. We didn’t keep that intensity and didn’t use the wing play as much as we should have done,” Madida says.

“I was disappointed with the manner in how the goals were scored. The difference between the two teams was that their goalkeeper [Marques] saved them in this game and our goalkeeper [Jody February] could not.

“If you [City] have scored on the second [back] post, that means something is wrong because the ball moves past you as a keeper. Definitely you need to handle that ball. But we also wanted [Kagiso] Malinga to be tight on number four [Fasika] but he didn’t do what he was supposed to do.”

Swallows should have been out of sight in the first half as they created a plethora of chances. For a former striker of the calibre of Madida, it was a painful watch.

“We create chances, sometimes we score them, sometimes not. Today they did not. But we must always have hope in football that next time they will finish those opportunities. We will just keep on fighting and polish ourselves.” He also criticised his side for not managing the game once they had a man advantage.

“In football you need intelligence of knowing of what you are supposed to do at certain times. We were supposed to manage the game and we didn’t. You manage by keeping the ball more and we did not do that, and these things matter in football.”  

Swallows sit three points ahead of bottom side Baroka FC, though they have played a game more, and just one in front of Chippa United in the relegation play-off position. They have played two games more than the Chilli Boyz. The Birds’ final fixture of 2021 is at home to Lamontville Golden Arrows on Wednesday and they will be desperate to go into the long break for the festive season and Africa Cup of Nations with a morale-boosting victory under their belt. Otherwise it will be a tough six weeks to dwell on their perilous situation.