The Birds now face empty-nest syndrome
Relegated Moroka Swallows will retain the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto as their home ground while bidding for a return to the Absa Premiership.
This was one of the resolutions taken at the club’s board meeting this week.
Leon Prins was guarded about the full outcome of the meeting, which took place on Wednesday, to plan for the Birds’ life in the National First Division (NFD).
He would not comment on coach Craig Rosslee – considered responsible for AmaZulu’s relegation in the same season – who was appointed on a short-term contract with a mandate to save the Birds from dropping out of the elite league.
“We’ll make a fresh start. We’ll stay at Dobsonville and have all agreed on that. The club will issue a press statement in due course,” Prins told City Press.
A massive clear-out from the Birds’ nest is inevitable, as the team must now conform to the NFD’s regulations on age requirements.
The current NFD rules emphasise the use of South African Under-23 players.
Also, many of the players’ contracts are running out at the end of this month while captain Lucky Baloyi (23) – who belongs to Kaizer Chiefs – was among a few on loan.
Other loanees were Philani Cele (28) from Chiefs, Sandile Sibande (27) from Bidvest Wits and Luyolo Nomandela (25) from Mamelodi Sundowns.
The club has already lost Lantshene Phalane and Vuyisile Wana, who have moved to Bloemfontein Celtic.
But the Birds could still find reprieve, subject to Safa’s approval of the new rules.
Premier Soccer League (PSL) general manager of football Derek Blanckensee this week said: “We are waiting for the new handbook to be approved and implemented.
“NFD sides [under the new rules] will be required to name five players under the age of 23 in their team sheet [on match day] and teams must field a minimum of two [Under-23] players at all times.”
The old rules required teams to start with five Under23 players.
Swallows had the oldest squad in terms of age in the PSL – with many players falling in the mid-twenties to late-thirties category.
Three of the squad’s most experienced players fall into the upper limit of the category, such as Siyabonga Nomvethe (38 in December), Shere Lekgothoane (36 in October) and Lefa Tsutsulupa (35).
As for the foreign-player quota in the NFD, the old rule allowed teams to include a maximum of three foreign-born players in the starting line-up. Blanckensee did not disclose the new requirement. Swallows already have three Serbian-born players – Obren Čučković (33 in August) Boris Savić (27) and Vladimir Mandić (29 in July) on their books.
The trio joined on long-term deals at the start of last season.
The Soweto outfit must now look no further than coaches with NFD experience, such as Steve Barker, Vladi Herić and Bobbie Solomons – especially if they plan a quick return to the Premier League. The three have proven their mettle in successfully getting NFD teams back into the elite league, as they all have done so over the past four seasons.
FLYING AWAY Lantshene Phalane is among the players who have already left Moroka Swallows since their relegation to the National First Division. He has joined Bloemfontein Celtic
STRESSFUL Leon Prins is under pressure to get Moroka Swallows back into the PSL in no less than a