The Covid-19 pandemic has done a lot of havoc in the globe which include the football business. With the elite football having just resumed, EFA is working around the clock pertaining the same in as far as the regional and women football competitions are concerned.
“Delegates, it is common knowledge that regional associations and women football competitions are still halted, since last year. In this regard, the EFA Executive Committee, empowered by the EFA Statutes on such instances, and being its responsibility and significant mandate to stipulate the appropriate statutory guidance to its member association, leagues and stakeholders, are currently engaged in collaborative discussions with the pertinent stakeholders, to give the most plausible guidance and direction, albert imperfect, in the light of the dynamic environment posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, on the football competitions business prospectively”; said the EFA President Mr. Adam Mthethwa. The expectation of this exercise is within the month of April.
Every dark cloud has a silver lining. With football fans being banned from attending football matches in stadiums due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) and MTN Eswatini has officially introduced a live streaming platform where football fans can watch their favourite teams at a cost which will be revenue that will benefit the football clubs.
“Football fans should enjoy local football from the comfort of their homes”, said Mr. Wandile Mtshali, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Eswatini. He also highlighted that the long term plan for this platform is for the people to enjoy local football even beyond the borders of this country. The football family expressed its excitement in as far as this partnership is concerned and the overall relationship that it have with MTN Eswatini. “As football family, we are happy with the relationship that we have with MTN Eswatini, and over and above that; we would like to express our sincere appreciation to MTN Eswatini for the cooperation that the organization had with us during this tough period where the globe is terrorised by the COVID-19 pandemic”, said the Eswatini Football Association’s (EFA’s) President, Mr. Adam Mthethwa.
The PLE Chairman Mr. Mark Carmichael acknowledged His Majesty’s Government for allowing the return of football and eulogized MTN Eswatini for her investment to football for the past 20 years. “We would like to acknowledge His Majesty’s Government for the return of football. We also thank MTN Eswatini for her investment in football development in the country as the organization has invested E50 Million to the game over 20 years”. He also pleaded to the football clubs and the nation at large to support this initiative for the benefit of the stakeholders. “We need to embrace the live streaming of matches as football clubs and the nation”, Carmichael said. The revenue generated from this initiatives will be shared by the PLE and MTN Eswatini with the former getting 78% whilst the latter getting 22%.
They paraded some of the best players in the world football but that didn’t intimidate Sihlangu as the Eswatini Senior Men’s National Team almost won their away match against the Aliou Cisse lead Senegalese National Team. With Sadio Mane starting the match on the bench and parading other world class players who play their club football in top European leagues, Sihlangu frightened the Taranga Lions in their own backyard at the Stade Late Dior in Dakar. With Senegal having already qualified for the Total AFCON Finals, pride was at stake for both nations.
Sihlangu was in search of the first win of these qualifiers at the expense of the Senegalese National Team. It was a well-articulated volley from the boot of Sabelo ‘Sawa’Gamedze that beat Seny Timothy Dieng hands down much to the joy of the Swatis. This was the lone goal of the first half.
In the second half, the Taranga Lions continued to apply more pressure to Eswatini as they hunted for the equalizer up until the 96th minute when a goalkeeping blunder by Sandanezwe Mathabele resulted to Cheikhou Kouyate to tap in the equalizer much to the relieve of the Senegalese who were almost embarrassed by Sihlangu on home soil. The match referee from Guinea blew the final whistle with both teams settling for a 1-1 draw.
Eswatini Football Association (EFA) and Athletics Eswatini (EA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will enhance the development of sports in the country. This MOU is aimed at promoting, strengthening the existing friendly relations and cooperation that exist between the EFA and AE.
As part of the MOU, both parties shall encourage and promote exchange programmes, skills, techniques, information and knowledge that will assist in the development of sports in the country. The EFA President Mr Adam Mthethwa highlighted the significance of sports development thus the implementation of this MOU. “Sports development is vital for any country there is a lot of benefit economically and otherwise”, Mthethwa said.
The Senior Men’s National Team (Sihlangu) is in search for a win against Guinea Bissau in the Total AFCON Qualifier Match to be played at the Mavuso Sports Centre in Manzini. This match will be played on Friday, 26th March 2021 and kick-off is at 1500 hrs (3:00 pm local time).
Answering questions from journalists during Sihlangu’s media day, the Head Coach Dominic Kunene expressed his confidence in as far as the players are concerned as he highlighted that even though the COVID-19 pandemic had its own effects but the lads are responding very well to his tactics. “Yes the pandemic did affect the players but they are responding quite well as we are prepared for this match”.
When asked about his match approach, he stated that they will attack the opposition as a team whilst also protecting their goal post. “We will attack as a team and also defend as a unit as we have to protect our goal post as well”, said Kunene.
He last played for Sihlangu during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Djibouti at the Mavuso Sports Centre in Manzini whichwas a sad day for Eswatini as the national team was eliminated from the competition. Justice Figureido is very much exited to represent his country on Friday after recovering from a lengthy injury he got whilst doing duty for his club TS Galaxy FC which is competing in the DST Premiership in South Africa.
“I am very much exited to be back in action and to represent my country. It has been a frustrating period for me as I was out of action for a long time”, said Figareido. The Sihlangu winger is keen to bring joy to the Eswatini football fans by assisting the national team to get a victory on Friday.
The information that Eswatini will play against Guinea Bissau at the Mavuso Sports Centre was good music to the Senior Men’s National Team (Sihlangu) Head Coach, Domenic Kunene. “Psychologically it was stressing the players in not knowing where the match will be played, but after it was confirmed that the match will be played on home turf; their psychological strength is now boosted as this is a venue they are familiar with” Kunene stated. This comes after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned the Mavuso Sports Centre from hosting official international matches of this magnitude as this venue does not meet the set standards.
After the CAF Emergency Committee meeting held on Monday, 8th March 2021; the African football governing body decided to lift the ban on hosting the Total AFCON Qualifiers match between these two national teams. This is an exclusive relaxation, restricted to only this match.
The EFA also welcomed this CAF decision as it came as a substantial relief on technical, fiscal and logistical requirements and convenience of hosting matches of an international breath.
The Senior Men’s National Team’s (Sihlangu’s) Head Coach, Mr. Domenic Kunene has selected a list of twenty-four (24) players in preparations of the Total AFCON Qualifier matches between Guinea Bissau and Senegal respectively. Sihlangu will play against Guinea Bissau in a venue that is yet to be announced on Friday, 26th March 2021 and four days later play against Senegal in Dakar. The players are as follows:
Sandanezwe Mathabela (Mbabane Swallows FC), Ncamiso Dlamini (Royal Leopard FC), Khanyakwezwe Shabalala (Mbabane Highlanders FC).
Lindokuhle Mkhonta (Young Buffaloes FC), Mlamuli Msibi (Royal Leopards FC), Sikhumbuzo Magagula (Royal Leopards FC), Mthunzi Motsa (Manzini Wanderers FC), Sanele Tshawuka (Green Mamba FC), Sihlangu Mkhwanazi (Young Buffaloes FC), Siboniso Mamba (Young Buffaloes FC).
Mzwandile Mabelesa (Royal Leopards FC), Siboniso Ngwenya (Young Buffaloes FC), Khetho Mkhontfo (Green Mamba FC), Sabelo Gamedze (Mbabane Highlanders FC), Sifiso Matse (Royal Leopards FC),Sandile Gamedze (Young Buffaloes FC), Njabulo Tfwala (Green Mamba), Wandile Shabangu (Young Buffaloes FC)
Sabelo Ndzinisa (Mbabane Highlanders FC), Phiwayinkhosi Dlamini (Young Buffaloes), Sidumo Dlamini (Royal Leopards FC), Fanelo Mamba (Young Buffaloes FC), Nhlanhla Ngwenya (Mbabane Swallows FC), Muzi Tsabedze (Manzini Sea Birds FC)
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has prohibited the hosting of the Total AFCON Qualifier Match between Eswatini and Guinea Bissau at the Mavuso Sports Centre in Manzini. This match is scheduled for Friday, 26th March 2021. According to CAF’s analysis, this venue no longer conform to the CAF Stadium Requirements to host international matches. CAF highlighted that the pitch condition is of a poor standard, the dressing rooms are not of high-quality standards and that the general renovation work needs to be fully modernized to host international matches.
According to the EFA statement, “The venue prohibition has been received with great distress and astonishment, considering that the match in question is only a few weeks away, with some of the elements prescribed as deficient, needing a lengthier time to address, rendering it impractical to address such deficient fundamentals within the restricted timeframe”. Currently the EFA is consequently trying to collaborate within this restricted time, with various stakeholders for the execution of hosting this match as directed by CAF.
In conformity with the declaration on the conclusion of the 2019/2020 season, through Circular 147 of the 10th September 2020; where it was decided that the season was concluded as at the point at which it was suspended, the Board of Governors of Eswatini Bank Cup, convoked and extensively analysed, this force majeure circumstances of the COVID-19 health threat and its repercussions on the Eswatini Bank Cup 2020, in particular, its conclusion and the prizes.
“The Eswatini Bank Cup 2020 “Idlala kamnandzi”edition, is decided to have concluded as at the quarter finals stage, across the principal competition and its supplementary competitions of the edition (i.e. Senior Men, Senior Women and U20 Boys competitions). Prizes are to be accorded to the assorted participants, in terms of their performance up to the quarter finals stage, including all individual or group prizes, adjudicated as decided by the act of the decision to conclude the competitions as at the quarter finals stage”, read a statement from the EFA.
The participant will get their prizes as per their performance by Friday, 26th February 2021 and the football association thanked the Eswatini Bank, as sponsors of the Edition and Cup, for their alliance in trying to resolve the conclusion and on the same wavelength appreciates the continued collaboration, understanding and resolution exhibited by the EFA Members in collaboration with the sponsors and the general football community, amid the persistent challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.