LOBAMBA – Simply wonderful, irrepressible and three-lling Mbabane Swallows!
They entered the pitch as mere mortals taking baby steps on the African football jungle and left Somhlolo National Stadium yesterday as heroes worthy of every superlative thrown at them.
Call them the ‘Barcelona Lite’ or the much-fancied ‘Van Damme’ but irrepressible Mbabane Swallows’ 3-0 win over a lethargic Tanzania’s Azam FC, which saw them reach the CAF Confederation Cup play-offs on a 3-1 aggregate score, will stay in the memory of the more than 5 000 fans who worshipped on the altar of football yesterday for eternity.
It was as sweet as nectarine.
Three brilliant goals, which would have read like a beauty contest results, ensured Swallows came within touching distance of CAF’s group stages. A typical goal poacher’s goal by goal-a-game striker Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa five minutes before half-time, a wonderful Wonder ‘Samba Jive’ Nhleko blockbuster six minutes after the hour mark and a cool finish by striker Sandile Hlatshwako in the 76th minute lifted the red and white glamour side to sporting heaven.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Paul Dlamini, Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs David ‘Cruiser’ Ngcamphalala and several Members of Parliament watched in glee as the ‘Birds’ rewrote history books by overturning a 0-1 first leg deficit last Sunday to a commanding 3-0 victory that left their honey-throated fans in dreamland.
Visibly disappointed Azam players fell on the pitch as if shot by a sniper.
After an hour-long drama near the dressing rooms as the visitors, Azam FC flatly refused to use the provided Somhlolo National Stadium dressing rooms – even threatening not to play – leading to a skirmish with Swallows marshals, the highly anticipated encounter kicked off with both sides struggling to exert themselves into the game.
But Swallows were still able to create two glittering goal-scoring chances which were fluffed by twin strikers, Sandile Hlatshwako and Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa as tension became palpable around the country’s soccer Mecca.
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