The Birds’ form of late has been so dismal that it did seem a matter of when, and not if, the likeable coach would decide to step down. It was a fifth straight defeat, a 3-2 loss at home to MP Black Aces that broke the proverbial camel’s back and caused Marques to exit stage left. Swallows’ defence has caved in like a house made of paper of late, and someone had to take the fall.
This does seem a bona fide resignation, by the way. Too often you see the phrase ‘parted ways by mutual consent’ line when a good old ‘sacked’ would be more apt. But Swallows CEO Leon Prins has always backed Marques, even interrupting an interview after Swallows’ 3-0 loss to Wits in the Telkom last 16 earlier this month, to berate his players, and defend his coach.
It remains to be seen who Prins signs up next, but for now Fani Madida faces the not exactly enviable task of guiding Swallows into their Absa Premiership clash at Kaizer Chiefs tomorrow evening.
There could not really be a worse time to play Amakhosi without a full time coach. Madidia in his prime was one of Chiefs’ best strikers, but even he might have struggled to break down the current Amakhosi defence. Stuart Baxter’s side have only won 13 games in a row since the start of the season in all competitions, and counting. This 14th match seems like the safest bet of the lot, against a beleaguered Swallows ripe for the plucking.
Chiefs have an absurd ten point lead at the top of the league table after only eight games of the season. It has to be a worrying sight for the rest, one of whom will probably have to go on their own ridiculous winning streak to stand any chance of catching Amakhosi.
But all are currently a little too inconsistent. This is shown in the two points separating Orlando Pirates in second place, and MP Black Aces in ninth in the table. If Aces beat Pirates tonight in Nelspruit, they will leapfrog the Buccaneers and suddenly be Chiefs’ closest challengers, for at least 24 hours.
One of Pirates or Sundowns really needs to grab the bull by the horns and make a run for it, or we could have the most boring title race ever. For Chiefs, however, it is probably a case of the duller the better. Amakhosi are flying, catch them if you can.
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