Moroka Swallows suffered a first round jolt to hopes of improving on their second place finish last season in the South African Premiership, slumping to a 3-1 defeat at Platinum Stars today.
The Soweto-based Birds were runners-up to Orlando Pirates, just a year after escaping relegation, and much credit for the transformation went to four-time title-winning coach Gordon Igesund. He was named national coach recently, seeing assistant Zeca Marques, famous for his love of lolipops, put in charge of a team boasting 2012 top goalscorer Siyabonga Nomvethe.
Platinum, a bottom-half outfit last season despite a late revival under new coach Cavin Johnson, scored through Malawian Robert Ng'ambi, Siphelele Mthembu and Benson Mhlongo before Lerato Chabangu grabbed a consolation goal.
The clinical finishing of 34-year-old Nomvethe was a key factor in the rise of Swallows and he squandered a great close-range chance with his team trailing by two goals soon after half-time in north-west mining town Rustenburg.
Promoted Pretoria University had Junior Sibande red carded during the second half and conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 at home against Maritzburg United.