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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Judgement day in Swazi MTN League

After ten months of sustained drama, ever-swinging fortunes, wonderful goals, controversial refereeing decisions and ill-luck, the MTN league 2011/12 season reaches its climax on Sunday.

The eagerly-anticipated big clash pits soccer heavyweights Manzini Wanderers against their new enemies Mbabane Swallows at Somhlolo National Stadium.

Not only will this clash be a grudge match but with Swallows enjoying a two-point lead, it is a league title decider in its own right.

Yes, Royal Leopard, who also have a chance of snatching the league title if Swallows falter and they beat relegation fighting side, Hellenic FC on the same day at Mavuso Sports Centre, but all eyes will be on the crunch Wanderers/Swallows clash.

This clash has all the ingredients of the thriller rolled into one. It is worth the MTN league’s first prize cheque of E600 000 in monetary terms and for good measure, you can add the pride and rivalry on top.

Leopard’s hopes rests on the outcome of the Wanderers/Swallows clash as well.

A prelude to the clash has added spice to the succulent ‘stew’ already as Wanderers goalkeeper, Sandile ‘Nkomishi’ Ginindza has been slapped with a two game suspension.

The national team first choice goalkeeper’s wild behaviour when he man-handled Red Lions coach, Siyabonga Bhembe, has led to his suspension which leaves the ‘Weslians’ with the only option of fielding reserve goalkeeper, Basil Mthethwa.

Swallows, who are the league’s most potent attacking side, having rattled the net 45 times.

They would want to exploit the goalkeeping loophole at the ‘Weslians’.

To add salt to injury, the hub giants will be minus four key players for Sunday’s clash.

Midfielder, Sandile ‘Theo’ Motsa, winger, Khayelihle ‘Karas’ Dlamini, defenders, Menzi Gamedze and Andile Makhubu will also miss the big clash due to injuries and academic commitments.

It leaves Wanderers with a depleted squad going to a clash that has more than just three points at stake.

The maroon and white outfit won the first leg clash with a well taken Nkululeko Dlamini late goal just a week after Swallows beat Wanderers 1-0 in the FixedFone Cup 3rd place Play off final courtesy of Tony Tsabedze’s lone strike.

Swallows are vying for the league title which is now theirs to lose while Wanderers are eager to stay within the top four bracket.

Swallows’ 1-0 victory over Green Mamba achieved with a late Talent Maphosa goal will go all out for kill with the in-form Tony Tsabedze expected to lead the attacking forays alongside club’s leading goal scorer, Mfanafuthi ‘Taribo’ Bhembe and his partner, Sabelo Ndzinisa.

Wanderers who are all out to spoil the party for Swallows will be led by the irrepressible Sidumo Shongwe, who has eight goals under his belt and former Jomo Cosmos midfielder, Felix Badenhorst will stabilize the midfield with the assistance of Congolese anchor man, Mbaya Katala.

Coach, Nyanga ‘Crooks’ Hlophe and his Wanderers counterpart, Mlamuli ‘Sputla’ Zwane will obviously deploy an attack-minded tactics to keep the capacity crowd expected to cascade to the country’s soccer Mecca, Somhlolo on the edges of their seats throughout the gruelling 90 minutes of play.

It’s a cliff-hanger in every way imaginable!

By Lwazi Dlamini

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