Warriors players China-bound

Senior national team players, Oscar Machapa and Gilbert Mapemba, are set to enjoy the fruits of Moroka Swallows’ fairytale run in the ABSA Premiership with an invitational tour of China early next month.

China-bound - Machapa (left) and Mapemba
China-bound – Machapa (left) and Mapemba

After a turbulent 2010/11 season, which saw them survive relegation on the last day of the season, The Dube Birds turned their fortunes around to challenge for the championship, losing to eventual winners Orlando Pirates by two points – again on the last day of the season.

Regulars Mapemba and Machapa starred in that side, whose magic was steered by record championship winning coach, Gordon Igesund. In what will obviously wipe away the tears of losing the R10 million prize on the last day, the Soweto giants have been appeased with a 2012 Shanghai International Football Tournament Invitation.

Club spokesman, Siyabonga Sangweni, described the Shanghai Football Association invitation as evidence that the team’s performance last season had not gone unnoticed by the international football community. The tournament kicks-off in the Chinese capital on June 1, with the Volkswagen-sponsored Swallows set to play against Shanghai Shenxin F.C on the same day, and Shanghai Shenhua two days later.

Swallows left South Africa Monday for the tournament in which they will also play French Ligue 1 side Evian Thonon Gaillard. “The players are excited that they will be travelling to China, some for the first time, after a very successful season,” said Igesund recently. “This trip will work as a good incentive for the players because they really deserve to be spoiled after they put up a championship performance throughout the season.”

The tournament will take place at Hongkou Football Stadium. There are two league-style competitions for each team and the winners will be the highest-ranked team at the end. The team is looking forward to experiencing the Chinese culture off and on the field.

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