“Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to sponsor football and we are committing ourselves to continue sponsoring in the future”, said the Chief Executive Officer of Eswatini MTN, Mr. Wandile Mtshali. This was during the official launch of the 2020/21 MTN Premier League that was held at the Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre in Ezulwini. This year’s edition is worth E6 Million and is the last share of the 3-year sponsorship deal between MTN Eswatini and the Premier League of Eswatini. “We are proud to sponsor the 2020/21 elite football season with E6 Million as part of the E18 Million sponsorship that started 33 years ago”, Mtshali said.
The CEO also stated that it is vital for the football family to protect the MTN brand as the games are being implemented. “It is important for us as a brand and sponsor that the brand is protected. The rules and regulations must be followed”, Mtshali said. He also expressed MTN’s confidence in seeing football growing due to the solid leadership within the football structures and also acknowledged government’s leadership in providing a conducive environment for the execution of business and the implementation of sports in the country. Due to the outbreak of COVID-1q9 pandemic, football fans will not be able to go to the stadiums and watch their respective teams. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, football fans can follow the live action through the MTN’s digital platform known as the yello club”, Mtshali said. The MTN Premier League matches will be streamed live on this platform as from this coming weekend.
The Eswatini Football Association’s (EFA’s) President Mr. Adam Mthethwa expressed the organisation’s gratitude towards MTN Eswatini for her investment in football over the years. “The EFA expresses its gratitude to MTN for her investment in football over the years”, Mthethwasaid. He also assured the sponsor that football is growing in the country as there are a lot of development initiatives that are being implemented. “A lot of developments are currently happening in football which includes club licensing which is being implemented for the betterment of the sport”, Mthethwa said. The President of the EFA also saluted His Majesty’s Government for nurturing an enabling environment for the implementation of the sport in the country.
The Premier League of Eswatini’s (PLE’s) Chairman Mr. Mark Carmichiel through PLE’s Executive Member Mr. Charles Matsebula echoed the EFA’s President’s words as he also acknowledged MTN’s role towards football development in the country. “MTN has been a good friend to football over the years and this partnership deserves to be celebrated as football has benefited a lot from it”, Matsebula said. He also expressed his profound gratitude to MTN for her professionalism in as far as this partnership is concerned.
The fight against COVID-19 is still on, however His Majesty’s Government has recognized the effort of football in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. This was disclosed by the Honourable Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harris Bulunga during the sponsorship launch of the 2020/21 MTN Premier League. “Football by being the first sporting code to voluntarily suspend matches when the pandemic attacked the world in March, set the tone for government in the fight against this virus”, Bulunga said. The Honourable Minister also highlighted that this decisioncontributed a lot towards saving the lives of Emaswati. “The Ministry extend its gratitude to all football stakeholders in understanding the decision of stopping the sport since March until October”, Bulunga said.
As the fight against COVID-19 pandemic still continues, the Honourable Minister stated it clear that no football fans will be allowed in the stadiums at least for now. “No fans will be allowed in the stadium and everyone must play his/her role in ensuring the safety of the populace”, Bulunga said. He also applauded MTN’s innovation in providing a digital platform where football fans can follow the action in the comfort of their homes. He also urged football lovers to embrace this innovation. Lastly, he assured the football family and the public that the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs and the Ministry of Health will continue to engage football authorities in as far as the fans attendance in the the stadiums is concerned.
Eswatini Football Association (EFA) has united with the globe in the fight against AIDS. “As the world commemorated the world AIDS day, the EFA would like to extend her solidarity and shared responsibility towards the fight against AIDS” the EFA said through a statement. The football association reminds the populace that the fight is not over thus there is still a need to increase awareness and the impact of HIV on people’s lives. “With solidarity and shared responsibility, we can suppress the stigma and discrimination and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV” said part of the statement.
EFA also highlighted that even though the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected us adversely; we mustn’t forget the havoc that HIV has done and still can do to our lives. “No one is safe unless we all safe”, the statement read.
The football association also acknowledged His Majesty’s Government and her partners for the efforts in the fight against the AIDS epidemic over the years since the first case was reported in the country. “As an organisation we believe that global problems needs global solidarity, thus only global solidarity and shared responsibility can help us beat the COVID-19 pandemic and the AIDS epidemic”, the statement concluded.
The Senior Men’s National Team (Sihlangu) is ready to face Congo Brazzaville which will be a back-to-back clash between the two nations. Sihlangu will play against the Red Devels in Brazzaville on the 12th November 2020 with the second leg to be played four days later at the Mavuso Sports Centre in Manzini. When addressing the media at the Somhlolo National Stadium; Sihlangu Head Coach Dominic Kunene was optimistic that the players were now ready for the match. “The players are committed to play for the country and in terms of physical fitness; they are not bad. We want to win and with nine points from the remaining matches, we can qualify for the Total AFCON Finals”, said Kunene.
He also highlighted that in as much as their focus is on having a clean sheet, they will also respect the game. “We are focusing on how to protect our goals whilst respecting the game”, Kunene said. Currently the national team is without the international players who are expected to join the national when the international FIFA week starts. “The international players will be part of the squad as we stated before that every capable player can play for the national team”, Kunene highlighted.
The hard tackling defender Lindokuhle Mkhonta will captain the Senior Men’s National Team (Sihlangu) for the first time when the nation’s pride plays against Congo Brazzaville on the 12th November 2020. He highlighted that, to be captain of the national team comes with huge responsibilities of which, he is looking forward in handling them. “It is not easy to be the captain of the national team but I will consult from the previous captains in order to live up to the expectations”, Mkhonta said. The hard man in the Sihlangu defence also highlighted that the long break of football had its effects towards them as players as they first struggled during the early days of the training camp. “We first struggled but we have improved after the long break of football due to the COVID-19 pandemic”, Mkhonta said. He also highlighted that training under the COVID-19 pandemic was different than before as there are a lot of health protocols that are now implemented. As a true leader, the captain was confident that they can get maximum points away from home. “We want the maximum points away from home”, Mkhonta said.
It was a game of two halves as Eswatini won the opening match against Comoros in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Eswatini did not have a good first half as Comoros was the most dominant team. This was confirmed by the first half score as Comoros was leading by 2-0 by the time the referee sent both teams to the dressing rooms. The goals for Comoros were scored by Abdourahmene Hairyat in the 16th minute and Attoumane Hadhiroimi in the 53rd minute.
Just when Comoros thought they have done the job, Eswatini had different ideas in the second half. Sitsebe as the Eswatini Senior Women’s National team is known raised their work rate and applied more pressure to Comoros which resulted in the opening of spaces for the Swatis. Sitsebe was able to take more shots at goal than in the first half. Sitsebe was able to score their first goal of this COSAFA edition via the boots of Phumzile Dlamini in the 65th minutes. This goal motivated Eswatini to apply more pressure towards Comoros which resulted in the second goal that was scored by Tenanile Ngcamphalala in the 75th minute.
Eswatini continued to dominate the match as Comoros was now panicking which made them to loss possession easily. In the 87th minutes where a draw was more of a possible result, Eswatini netted the 3rd goal through Nonjabuliso Mokgale in the 87th minute. Comoros efforts of getting an equalizer dimished when Phumzile Dlamini completed her brace with a well taken goal in the 90th minute which sealed Eswatini’s maximum points. The next match for Eswatini will be on Friday against the host on the same grass.
The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) has acknowledged His Majesty’s Government for the return of elite football in the country. This was after the Right Hounourable Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini announced the return of elite football in the country since the last action in March due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
“On behalf of the football fraternity, EFA would like to express her profound gratitude to the Head of His Majesty’s Government and all pertinent Government constructions, on the affirmative consideration of a return of football business” said the General Secretary (GS) of the EFA, Mr Frederick Mngomezulu. He also highlighted that the EFA is fully cognizant of the momentous task and most critically, the task of having to ensure a safe return of the game of football. “EFA commits to continue to respond, positively, to the direction f Government as she execute a safe return to football, as the evolution of the COVID-19 may dictate”, Mngomezulu said.
The GS also assured that the EFA still upholds its commitment of placing the health of all participants first. In doing so, the EFA will prescribe regulatory framework that will comply with the COVID-19 era. “As a preliminary direction to her membership and the general public, the EFA Executive Committee will on Monday, 12th October 2020, convene a special Executive meeting to discuss the details of the pronouncement and conditions, in the process refining the Football Resumption Strategy, for its delivery to its members and the general public, as all football practice during this COVID-19 era will be governed by this strategy and obviously, the evolution of COVID-19 pandemic”, Mngomezulu said.
The delivery of the strategy will carry with it specific timelines on the applicable COVID-19 mitigation elements that have to be observed; and dates on the registration of players and clubs for the new season (2020/2021) and the commencement of training by football clubs and expected COVID-19 elements amongst others.
The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) will as of this coming season (2020/21) license referees in the country. This was disclosed by the EFA’s General Secretary (GS) Mr. Frederick Mngomezulu during the online closing ceremony of the FIFA MA Youth Refereeing Course which was also implemented virtually due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. “As from the 2020/21 football season, the EFA will license referees in the country”, Mngomezulu said. This is one of the numerous ways in which the EFA will be enhancing the development of refereeing in the Kingdom. During the same closing event, the GS also gave an assurance that the EFA is committed in supporting referees in the country. “As EFA, we are commitment in making our referees to be better performers in both the domestic and international arena”, Mngomezulu said.
On another note the Eswatini Football Association’s General Secretary (GS), Mr. Frederick Mngomezulu also urged the referees in the country to work extra hard in order to be best referees. “The sky is the limit. Remember, dedication and perseverance are also vital if you want to succeed”, Mngomezulu said. He also emphasized the importance of staying in shape. In conclusion the GS expressed the EFA’s acknowledgement for her investment in the development of football in the country.
After some through consultations and analysis of the current situation in relation to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) in a much anticipated meeting held on Thursday, 20th August 2020 decided to conclude the 2019/20 football season.
“During this protracted period of consultations, various scenarios have been analysed culminating to a meeting of the Executive Committee on the 20th August 2020, where, after critical analyses of this force majeure circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already placed football into an unparalleled hiatus, and the responsibility to assure the practice of the football business prospectively in an optimal environment, albit imperfectly as a result of the pandemic, decided that the 20219/20 football season, as at the 20th August 2020, is decided as at the point at it which it was concluded with the determination of the winners and promotions, as per the standings at the point, however, without the effect of relegations”, Mr. Mngomezulu, the General Secretary (GS) of the EFA said in a press conference held at Sigwaca House on Friday, 21st August 2020.
He also stated that this decision was taken after the EFA considered a number of factors which include the following: