Baptism of fire  for Swallows

Baptism of fire for Swallows

MASERU- Econet Premier League newcomers Swallows received a harsh welcome to the elite league last weekend as they were outclassed in the preseason Alliance Winter Challenge.
The tournament was a rude awakening for the Mazenod side as they prepare to return to the top-flight for the first time since 2011.
In their semi-final clash last Saturday Lioli ran rampant and showed no mercy winning 5-0 on the day to proceed to the final. The following day ‘Maswai-swai’ were beaten 2-0 by Matlama in the losers’ final.

However, it is not the results that had the scores of Swallows fans worried about the team’s readiness for the new season but the overall performance of the team.
Hundreds of Swallows fans at Setsoto Stadium voiced their concerns amongst each other; some left before their semi-final match ended as they could not bear to watch their team being dismantled.

The fans’ main concerns were the height of their players and a lack of experience and leaders on the pitch.
Swallows supporters also complained their players were too young to deal with the fast paced football in the elite league.
Fans said the players were unable to cope with the physicality and were being bullied off the ball easily.

In was quite a departure from last season when Swallows were blowing away teams in the A-Division and gained their promotion to the premier league convincingly.
However, the Alliance Winter Challenge showed that if Swallows are to keep their Econet Premier League status they have to do better and find a system that will work for them.
Most premier league clubs have an experienced presence on the field and in the penalty box and many score from set-pieces.
If anything was exposed on the weekend it was Swallows failure to deal with set pieces.

On Saturday, the first goal opened the floodgates and it looked like Lioli would not stop until the final whistle.
The performance left supporters with more questions than answers. Most of them, did not bother to show up on Sunday for the “losers’ final” against Matlama which they lost 2-0.
Swallows spokesperson Ralekoala Lekoala recognised the supporters’ frustrations about the team but insisted they are ready for the new season.
He said the team that will show up for their opening Econet Premier League game against Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) in September will be a different one to the one that put up a pathetic show over the weekend.

“This team is ready for the new season, I agree we need to make big reinforcements to the team, our players are very young, they are too short if you compare them with the players we played against,” he said.

“We need leaders on the pitch, we need experience.
We need at least one experienced leader in every department from defence to strikers, we are talking about three players,” Lekoala said.
“We are struggling with getting sponsors on board, we already have those three players that we need to add the much need experience and leadership to the team, but the problem is we don’t have sponsors and they need to be paid,” he said.

“We just need to find a sponsors and then we will draw up contracts with those players. I promise you the team that will show up on the opening day of our league games, will be a very different team to the one that played this past weekend,” he said.

Luciah Phahla

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