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My dearest readers............A week in football nay politics is a long time and three weeks then surely feels like a lifetime.

It is barely three weeks since I asked Father Christmas to give me a perfect Christmas present in the form of a Mbabane Swallows versus Manzini Wanderers Ingwenyama Cup final clash in 2018. I am not sure whether Father Christmas had an overdose on the finest Scottish nectar that is freely available for every Tom, Dick and his Uncle Harry during the festive holidays or he did not get the message clearer because he did deliver my gift but sadly, in the ‘wrong’ stage of the richest tournament in the land. Yes, it’s Mbabane Swallows versus Manzini Wanderers in the quarter-finals of the Ingwenyama Cup this Sunday at the country’s soccer Mecca, Somhlolo National Stadium. I am a bit disillusioned because I asked for ‘cake’ and Santa Claus gave me ‘bread’.

The saddest thing is that by virtue of my presence during the tension-filled Ingwenyama Cup draw last Wednesday at the sponsor’s head offices boardroom, I participated in this ‘madness’. Master of Ceremonies, Nkosilenhle Masuku called up Yours Truly to do the honours in the draw and I picked Young Buffaloes, last year’s runner’s up who went on to be paired against nemesis Green Mamba. It was modest sports journalist, Ashmond Nzima, the reigning ‘Best Reporter’ of the tournament, whose tiny hands, which must have inspired invention of wooden forks, picked up the ball which gave birth to this ‘pick’ of the quarter-final draw – Swallows versus Wanderers.  It was a salient moment. The deathly silence that enveloped the well-decorated boardroom is what Essayist, George Bernard Shaw once described, as ‘the most perfect expression of scorn,’ But in retrospect, the silence I witnessed this memorable Wednesday morning was one which philosopher, Susan Sontag aptly described as inescapably a form of speech. It spoke so much louder than screaming tantrums!

Two of the country’s oldest teams, Mbabane Swallows, who will be celebrating 70th years anniversary this year, having been founded in 1948 up against Manzini Wanderers who celebrated 60 years last year (2017) having been founded in 1957, were to cross swords in the richest club tournament in the land. They do not come any bigger than that! To add ‘spice’ to the succulent ‘stew’ is that the two sides have not played each other in a major cup competition for 10 years now. The last meeting was in 2008 in the SwaziBank Cup quarter-final stage when a Ndoda ‘Stomach’ Mthethwa brace cancelled an early lead by defender, Mgonodi Sidel sending the ‘Birds’ packing out of the lucrative tournament. While Swallows has been riding the crest of wave as a dominant force of local football, winning a boutique of eight trophies in the last two seasons; going on a long-as-the-Manzini-City-Centre traffic congestion in the rush hour 40-league game unbeaten run, the ‘Weslians’ have not won anything shiny in the form of silverware for the past 13 years.


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