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MBABANE – We are now stuck with our star players, aren’t’ we?

Reports on the return of Mthunzi ‘Xavi’ Mkhontfo, who happens to be the only Swazi footballer plying his trade outside the borders the country, should not go down well with any football-loving Swazi.

His contract with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) giants AS Vita was not renewed and he has made it clear that his next destination is our own Premier League where three teams are set to wrestle for his signature.
This article is not about the former Midas City and Sihlangu player’s return.

Instead, it is about the dearth of local players playing professional football outside the country.
There was a time in 2003 when Sihlangu coach, the late Dumisa ‘Dodge’ Mahlalela, would have to call up six players from South Africa for the team.

He had Dennis ‘Yuki’ Masina, Siza ‘King Pele’ Dlamini, Mfanzile ‘Fash’ Dlamini, Wonder ‘Samba Jive’ Nhleko, Sibusiso ‘Spoko’ Dlamini, John ‘Junior Shisa’ Mdluli and Siboniso ‘Ndezi’ Masangane.

The numbers increased as Manqoba ‘Dunga’ Kunene joined Silver Stars, now Platinum Stars, with Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze joining SuperSport United and Civil Matsebula headed to Wits University. It was an era of a golden generation of players who lifted the country’s flag to loftier heights.

However, it is no longer a secret that since those days, the number of local players migrating to professional leagues has decreased significantly. The few who were snapped up did not last beyond two seasons.
Mfanafuthi ‘Taribo’ Bhembe, Felix Badenhorst, Phinda ‘Phindrix’ Dlamini have tried but did not last long in the money spinning South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL).

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