Roger Da Costa - Fact File

Swallows’ Tough Tackling Costa 

Roger Da Costa is enjoying his football under Zeca Marques at Moroka Swallows. The tough-tackling defender is quickly becoming one of the best defenders in the PSL with his work rate and endurance at the back for the Dube Birds. He had an interview with Sabie Chili and the 27-year-old speaks about Swallows` impressive start this season. Da Costa also talks about his partnership with Larry Cohen, the role of senior players in the team and the club`s former coaches Rainer Zobel and Gordon Igesund.

Personal Information
Full names: Roger Da Costa
Date of birth: 22 April 1986
Place of birth: Johannesburg

Position: Defender
Jersey no: 16

Club: Moroka Swallows

Previous Clubs: 
Tyler Junior College, Austin Aztecs (both USA)

2007/08 National Soccer coaches Association of America College Player of the Year, 2010/11 MTN8 finalist (Swallows), 2012/13 MTN8 champion (Swallows)

Hi Roger, some of the players you had last season left the club. Are you happy with the guys in the current team?
Look, we have got off to a good start. We have had some good results. We let two or three big name players go and didn`t bring any big name players back in, which I think a lot of people were skeptical about. I also think some of us were worried about it at the beginning of the season. But we have brought in some good young players. We needed to do that to prepare for the future. The signings we have made have done a very good job for us.

What do you think of the team`s progress since you started at the club under Rainer Zobel in the 2010/11 season?
That season under Zobel was very tough. Personally, as a player coming from America to the PSL at the time, I found the style and players a lot quicker over here. We found Zobel`s methods good and he was a good coach. But sometimes foreign coaches and African players don`t gel quickly. I think that was a bit of a problem at the beginning of that season, although we were unlucky in a lot of situations. Having reached the finals of the MTN8 that season as well, we slumped afterwards until December. We only had two points halfway through the season. 
Then Gordon Igesund came in. He is a fantastic coach. I didn`t play a lot of matches under Igesund, but I learnt from him and what he did for the team. In the season and a half he was with us, he was phenomenal. He saved us from relegation. In the following season, we finished second on the log to Orlando Pirates on the last day. So from Gordon laying the foundation and now Zeca Marques having taken over and won the MTN8, it was a big milestone for him as a coach and the club. I think Zeca has now started to get his own identity for the team. He has started to implement his own ideas and what he wants from the players. The players have responded well. Zeca has been a big part of South African football for a long time. The team is gelling well at the moment. We have got a good bunch of guys who are great professionals. Guys like Nomvethe, Sibaya, Mabalane and Etafia are amazing and inspiring.

Zeca seems to be building a strong back pairing of you and Larry Cohen in the defence.
We have a fantastic understanding and we are very good friends off the field as well. We communicate a lot. Sometimes you hear people talk about the understanding strikers or defenders have, and we seem to have that. We complement each other very well, Larry is a good ball playing centre back. He is comfortable with the ball and is able to start attacks from the back. I am the destroyer-a man marker. We complement each other nicely in that respect. I have got to say that Larry and I have been getting a lot of credit, but we`ve got a great central pairing in front of us. Asavela Mbekile and Giorgi Nergadze have been doing a lot of the dirty work. They make our job easier. Again, we have got guys like Ashraf Hendricks and Rudi Isaacs on the bench. They are pushing us in case we slip up. Those are the two quality defenders that can comfortably come in and do the job as well. We have healthy competition, we are pushing each other at training and that`s benefiting us.

You have played with Siyabonga Nomvethe and Katlego Mashego at Swallows, winners of the Top Goal scorer award in the last two seasons. Working with players like that on a daily basis must have helped your game as a defender.
Let me include Edward Manqele. Playing with these strikers week in and week out at training is tough. That alone makes you a better defender. In training I always like to play against Edward Manqele or Nomvethe and  Mashego when he was here,  because it`s always tough to play against them. I got sharper and better. It`s always good to play against the best. You speak to the guys off the field and try to get into their heads to see how top strikers think. In saying that, with Eddie this season, he had people criticizing him. As a defender, I will tell you first-hand that he is a phenomenal striker. He is very quick and clever, I will even put my head on the block and say that he will be the top scorer this season.

You are seen as an aggressive player who doesn`t shy away from tackles. Do you see yourself as the Willard Katsande or Edwin Gymah of Swallows?
As a centre back or a defensive player, sometimes you have to  put your body on the line. It`s not a job that everybody likes to do.  It`s an honour for you to mention me in the same sentence as Gymah and Katsande because they are fantastic players. Obviously we play in different positions. I think every team needs one or two guys to get stuck in and be the ball winners. I wouldn`t say I`m aggressive because that`s going to alert some of the referees. What I do is part of my job. If I was a striker, it would have been different criteria. But as a professional, I have respect for my fellow professionals. I know that this is their job. It`s their bread and butter. I`m not a dirty player. But if I`m going to pull out of a tackle, it means I’m going to allow someone to score.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and all the best for the second half of the season.
Thanks man, thank you.