Marques’ vision starts to take shape at Santos
IT’S taken a while, but the tide appears to be turning at Santos.
The Lansdowne-based NFD club appointed former Moroka Swallows mentor Zeca Marques as head coach at the beginning of the season.
But any thoughts of immediate improvement were quickly dispelled when the People’s Team struggled to get going in their opening few fixtures.
Marques, though, was always clear that on stepping into job, it would be a process and that his philosophy would take a little time to permeate the squad.
On the evidence of the last few weeks, it looks like things are finally working out. After going winless in their opening seven games, Marques’ men have now won two on the trot, and they are keen to continue that momentum when they take on neighbours FC Cape Town in a Cape derby at the NNK Rugby Stadium in Parow today (kickoff 3.30pm).
“The team is coming together now, they are finally starting to gel,” said Marques. “I think the players now understand that if they want to be in the promotion playoffs or even win the NFD title, then they have to pick up their standard.
“They have to be competitive and be ready to give their all in every game.
“I’m now starting to see the necessary intensity needed… My priority is always to explain to the squad the importance of why they have to do certain things, why they have to play in a certain way, why they have to raise their levels.
“You must remember that this is a young squad, many of them don’t come from good developmental backgrounds, so it’s a process in trying to get them to perform at this level.
“They are having to take a lot of information on board, so I expected that it would take time. But the work ethic is getting there and it’s looking good… we just have to continue to perform as we have.”
As things stand, Cape Town All Stars top the NFD log with 22 points, followed by Baroka FC (21), Witbank Spurs (19) and Highlands Park and Royal Eagles (both on 18 points).
As for the other Cape clubs, Milano United are in eighth position with 14 points, Santos 11th and Vasco da Gama 12th (both on 10 points), with FC Cape Town 13th on eight points.
Marques, though, is still enjoying his stay in the Mother City. “What can I say,” he said. “I love this city… The club has been good and the chairman (Goolam Allie) has been very supportive.
“We have a vision we want to implement and it’s slowly starting to take shape.”
The Santos coach, however, admitted that they are expecting a tough encounter against FC Cape Town today.
“Derbies are always tough,” he said. “We analysed FC Cape Town during our video sessions this week, and like all teams they have their strengths and weaknesses. But we’ve planned well and we’ll be ready.”