Walter M. Schirra, Sr. once said “You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes”. This is the spirit that Eswatini the Football Association (EFA) has demonstrated to the Eswatini Referees Association (ERA) as it sponsored the organisation with a uniform to be used by the referees as they execute their duties.
When presenting this uniform on behalf of the EFA, the organisation’s General Secretary (GS) Mr. Frederick Mngomezulu highlighted the significance of enhancing the image of refereeing in the country. “Image is very important in football, thus the significance of enhancing the image of referees in particular in the execution of elite competitions.”, Mngomezulu said. The EFA has made it a norm to sponsor the ERA with a uniform on a yearly basis as an input towards the development of football in the country.
In acknowledging this kind gesture by the EFA, the ERA’s Chairman Mr. Jabulani Motsa voiced out the association’s appreciation for being the recipients of this beautiful uniform. “As ERA we thank EFA for this uniform and also promise that we will keep it in good condition”, Motsa said.
The Senior Men’s National Team (Sihlangu) head coach Dominic Kunene has described group B as a tough group. This is the group where Eswatini is scheduled to play against Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Togo in the TotalEnergies AFCON Group Qualifies 2023 that will commence in the next FIFA International Week.
Eswatini is scheduled to play against Togo on matchday 1 (away), Burkina Faso on match day 2 (home), Cape Verde on match day 3 (away), Cape Verde on match day 4 (home), Togo on match day 5 (home), and Burkina Faso on match day 6 (away).
“This is a tough group when you consider the history of the opponents”, Kunene said. All Eswatini opponents have competed in this competition’s previous finals.
As per CAF’s schedule, match day 1 and 2 will be implemented between the 30th May – 14th June 2022, match day 3 and 4 between 19th – 27th September 2022 and finally match day 5 and 6 between the 20th – 28th March 2023.
The first runner up of the eleven groups where the host (Cote d’Ivoire) is not playing will qualify for the finals of the competition. For the group of the host, since the host is automatically qualified despite its result; if the host is ranked first, the host will qualify in addition to the second of the group; if the host is ranked second, the host will qualify in addition to the first of the group; and if the host ranked third or fourth, the host will qualify in addition to the first of the group.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has disclosed the dates for the implementation of the TotalEnergies AFCON Cote d’Ivoire 2023 Group Stages, TotalEnergies CHAN Algeria 2023 and the TotalEnergies Women AFCON Morocco 2022 Finals.
Sihlangu is one of the national teams that will know their opponents in the TotalEnergies AFCON Cote d’Ivoire 2023 Group Stages after eliminating Somalia in the preliminary stage of this competition. The draw for this competition will be executed on Tuesday, 19th April 2023 at 1730hrs GMT (1930 hrs local time).
Another CAF competition that involves the national team is the TotalEnergies CHAN Algeria 2023 whose draw will be conducted on Monday, 25th April 2022.
The draw for the TotalEnergies Women AFCON Morocco 2022 will be implemented on Thursday, 28th April 2022.
Fresh from assisting Sihlangu to qualify for the group stages of the TotalEnergies AFCON 2023 Qualifiers, Sandile ‘Saviola’Gamedze has won himself the Player of the Month Award for March in the MTN Premier League. The striker who was one of the goal scorers for the national in an away match against Somalia in Tanzania thanked the technical benches for both club and country together with his teammates at club and national team level for their support towards the growth of his game. “I would like to thank both the technical benches of Sihlangu and Young Buffaloes FC together with my teammates for both club and country for their support towards the growth of my game thus me winning this award”, Gamedze said. He has 37 caps for Sihlangu and has scored five goals. The striker also promised to work hard for both club and country as he wants to assist his team to win more silverware and also be part of the national team history by qualifying for the TotalEnergies AFCON Finals to be hosted by Ivory Coast in June/July 2023.
The immediate goal for the Senior Men’s National Team (Sihlangu) was to qualify for the group stages of the TotalEnergies 2023 AFCON Qualifiers. This goal was achieved after Sihlangu won both the home and away matches against Somalia in the preliminary round of the qualifiers.
On Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, the Eswatini won against Somalia by 3-0 in a match that was played in Tanzania. Sihlangu goals were scored by Bonginkosi Dlamini, Fanelo Mamba and Sandile Gamedze. Both national teams were in action again in four days’ time and this match was played at the Mbombela Stadium in South Africa. Sihlangu won by 2-1 and the national team scored by Sabelo Ndzinisa and Fanelo Mamba. Somalia scored through Sakariya Hassan. This made the aggregate score to be 5-1 in favour of Eswatini.
Sihlangu will know more about the future in the competition after the implementation of the TotalEfnergies 2023 Qualifier’s group stage draw by CAF in a date yet to be announced. A total of fourty-eight national teams will compete for a place in next year’s finals to be hosted by Ivory Coast in June/July 2023.
TWENTY-TWO PLAYERS PART OF SIHLANGU DELEGATION TO TANZANIA
A total of twenty-two (22) players are part of the Senior Men National Team’s (Sihlangu’s) delegation that travelled to Tanzania for the TotalEnergies AFCON Preliminary Match against Somalia to be played on Wednesday, 23rd March 2022. It has been originally scheduled that the national team was to leave Eswatini on Monday, 21st March 2022 but due to unforeseen flight changes; the national team delegation was forced to reschedule its departure from Eswatini as They were now going to utilize a longer route as opposed to the original direct route. This travelling rescheduling also affected the pre-departure programme resulting in the team having to depart on Sunday night. The team delegation is led by an Executive Committee Member, Mr. Johannes Siboza. Sihlangu is expected back home on Friday, 25th March 2022. The travelling players are as follows:
Sandanezwe Mathabela (Mbabane Swallows FC), Khanyakwezwe Shabalala (Mbabane Highlanders FC)
Mlamuli Msibi (Royal Leopards FC), Siboniso Mamba (Young Buffaloes FC), Sihlangu Mkhwanazi (Young Buffaloes FC), Kwakhe Thwala (Young Buffaloes FC), Mxolisi Manana (Green Mamba FC), Simphiwe Manana (Mbabane Highlanders FC)
Sifiso Matse (Royal Leopard FC), Mzwandile Mabelesa (Royal Leopard FC), Neliso Dlamini (Manzini Wanderers FC), Mpendulo Dlamini (Young Buffaloes FC), Khetho Mkhontfo (Green Mamba FC), Junior Magagula (Royal Leopard FC), Philani Mkhontfo (Mbabane Highlanders FC)
Sabelo Ndzinisa (Mbabane Highlanders FC), Sandile Gamedze (Young Buffaloes FC), Fanelo Mamba (Young Buffaloes FC), Muzi Tsabedze (Manzini Sea Birds FC), Mthokozisi Gwebu (Manzini Sea Birds FC), Justice Figareido (Cape Town All Stars FC), Bonginkosi Dlamini (GD Sangrada Esperanca)
The preparations have been done and now is the implementation time as Sihlangu play against Somalia in the preliminary rounds of the TotalEnergies AFCON Qualifiers for the finals to be played in Ivory Coast in June/July 2022. Sihlangu is confident in getting positive results against Somalia and proceed to the group stages of this qualifiers. The national team will play against Somalia in Tanzania on Wednesday, 23rd March 2022.
“It will be a tough match but we will do our best to win the match”, said Sihlangu Head Coach Dominic Kunene. He also highlighted that the players are psychologically, physically and tactically ready for the match of which playing away from home won’t affect them. “The players are ready psychologically, physically and tactically of-which playing away from home will not affect them”, Kunene said. He also stated that he will have all the players that he needs for this match including the foreign based players.
His words were echoed by Sihlangu skipper Lindo Mkhonta who also said that as players they are ready for Somalia and their focus is now on Wednesday’s match. “We ready for Wednesday match and our focus is on this match as we want positive results”, Mkhonta said. The captain also asked the nation to support the national team in either way more especially spiritually as they will be away from home. The national team will leave the country on Monday for Tanzania.
The Honourable Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harries Bulunga has officially launched the Pick’nPay/EFA Kick-off 2022 which is an U15 Football Development Programme which is targeted to both boys and girls. This programme’s sponsorship package is worth E807 090.00.
In his address, the Honourable Minister stated that this football development programme has the potential of becoming game changer and turning point for local football. “This launch here this morning truly is a momentous occasion and one that has the potential of providing to becoming a game changer and turning point for local football”, Bulunga said. In emphasising the significance of such programmes, the Honourable Minister highlighted that this programme was what our football has been crying out for. “This Pick 'n Pay -EFA Programme is exactly what our football has been crying out for”, Bulunga said.
“Such early identification of talent is critical in making sure that players can then be put in well-planned nurturing system, ensuring that their rough talents are polished and refined to maximum impact when they reach the elite levels. Not only that, but this programme will go to assist in bridging the gap that has long existed between elite level and grassroots football”, the Honourable Minister said. He was also ecstatic that this football development programme includes the girl child which will contribute immensely towards the women sport development programmes in the country. “Perhaps the standout feature of this programme is its equal focus on both girls and boys, ensuring that, for once, our girls are not left behind in sport development. From today onwards, we are taking the girl child with us in football”, Bulunga said.
The President of the EFA Mr. Peter Simelane expressed the organization’s delight in this partnership with P 'n P as it will address the gap in as far as the football development programmes are concerned. “This development is coherent with our association’s resolution of pioneering extensive and comprehensive improvements in the sporting industry as we strive to constantly deliver products abd services that will expedite football development and ultimately national growth. The U15 age category has been observed as a glaring gap in the development of players as you would normally observe some programmes at U13 and U17. This U15 project will therefore bridge this significant gap in the player development pathway”, Simelane said.
P 'n P Lojaf’s Retail Executive Mr. Nuno Xavier concurred with the EFA’s President as he also highlighted that this football development programme will reduce the huge gap in as far as football development is concerned. “The EFA needs partners to implement her mandate to structure, develop, promote and deliver quality football to all stakeholders in Eswatini, hence the proposal to Lojaf Pick ‘n Pay to invest in football development”, Xavier said. He also stated that, this programme will satisfy both the business objectives of P ‘n P and the technical development objectives of EFA.
This annual football development programme will commence on the 23rd April and ends on the 17st September 2021 and will also be implemented concurrently with the in-store promotions by P 'n P as part of it. A total of 80 teams will be participating from 10 zones aof the EFA where the P ‘n P Stores are located. These stores are Mashayitafula, The Crescent, The Gables, Mahhala, Riverstone, The Hub, Malkerns, Nhlangano, Mbabane and Siteki.
The TOTALEnergies AFCON preliminary round qualifiers' draw has been implemented and Eswatini will play against Somalia in a two-legged encounter between the 21st and the 29th of March 2022. The aggregate winners will proceed to the group stages of the TotalEnergies 2023 AFCON Qualifiers. The finals will be played in Cote d'Ivoire.