‘BIRDS’ THROW ’LANDERS A LIFELINE
(At Somhlolo National Stadium)
‘Sikhali’ 1st, Mydo 3rd, ‘Pupu’ 41st
Red Lions................................ (0)0
LOBAMBA – Unbeaten Mbabane Swallows’ 17th victory of the season, a 3-0 win over Red Lions last night, was celebrated more wildly by the black and white part of the capital city.
Swallows’ win at Somhlolo National Stadium not only ensured they remained unbeaten with three games to spare, but eased the pressure on traditional rivals Mbabane Highlanders, who are having a prolonged dance with demotion as they are still third from the bottom.
Red Lions’ defeat means, in many ways, they are in serious danger of going down as they remain a point behind Highlanders, who need to win all their remaining games against Green Mamba, Young Buffaloes and Swallows to be assured of Premier League football next season. Three first half goals by returning talisman, Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa, the enterprising Kingu Mydo, as well as gifted winger Banele ‘Pupu’ Sikhondze, ensured the shuffled Swallows, who made three changes to their starting 11, stretched their unbeaten run in the league to 18 matches, grabbing 52 points out of a possible 54. Major changes in the team saw Mandla Palma pushed to right back, with Sifiso Mabila a notable absentee while Talent Maposa returned to the start in central defence.
It took just two minutes for the illustrious home side to unsettle the hapless opponents, scoring twice in the first three minutes. ‘Ndzinisa’ who was controversially suspended in the celebrated 4-2 CAF Confederations Cup win over Congo’s AC Leopards last Saturday, fired home the opener and his 17th of the campaign following a cross from ‘Pupu’ in the first minute.
The opposition’s defence stuttered in the box as they failed to clear their lines following a mix-up involving Mthokosizi Nkambule and goalkeeper, Mbongeni Motsa. Mydo, who started ahead of rested skipper, Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze, doubled the advantage two minutes later with curled a free-kick just outside the box.
Red Lions ensured the home shot-stopper, Sandile ‘Nkomishi’ Ginindza was under employed as they failed to get into the opposition’s last third in the early stages of the game until Sandile Mhlanga tested the goalkeeper with an unexpected long drive just after the half-hour mark. Striker Solomon Oladele also forced ‘Nkomishi’ to make a one-handed save from close range after he was set up by Muntu Mamba. Despite the threat to respond, Thabo ‘Koki’ Vilakati’s troops were still easily shaking off the Red Lions’ defence, with ‘Pupu’ putting the game beyond the opposition’s reach when he connected a Sandile Hlatshwako cross from the left to hit the last nail in the coffin with an easy tap-in.
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