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(At Somhlolo National Stadium)

Y. Buffaloes.......................... (0) 1
Leopard................................. (1) 1
Bonginkosi 30th

LOBAMBA – You may call it scrappy, but who cares?  Royal Leopard have marched on to the final of the Ingwenyama Cup for the second time in three years.

The police side’s last appearance in a major cup final was the self-same Ingwenyama Cup in March 2016 at the same venue, when they lost 0-2 to Mbabane Swallows who they will now ironically meet this year.

Speedy striker Bonginkosi ‘Manyovu’ Dlamini should and would definitely thank the Lord for a gift wrapped loose ball that fell on his path at three yards from a goalmouth scramble. Leopard skipper of the day Muzi ‘Mzoro’ Dlamini who played right back, lofted a throw-in that fell into the crowded 16 yards, Buffaloes’ Dumisani ‘DU’ Mdluli attempted a headed clearance that fell on Manyovu at the back post to nod home the winner.

It was a scrappy finish, but worth the while in what was a tightly contested, temperamental armed forces derby.

The football displayed was good. The fighting spirit befitted the status of the encounter. There were interesting duels spread across the field. The one that stood out though was the one between Phiwa Dlamini and Phumlani Dlamini which on several occasions drew the attention of lenient referee Thembinkosi Dlamini.

The whistleman spent most of his time lecturing players to behave than to sanction bad behaviour with cautions.
There was no denying the intentions of the Royal Leopard side who came into the tie as underdogs given their recent fall from grace. Sifiso Nuro Ntibane opted to go for an experienced starting 11, which saw Mxolisi General Lukhele and Zweli ‘Mlilo’ Nxumalo partnering in midfield. The intention was clear to stifle the combativeness of Sandile Gamedze and Du Mdluli. It worked wonders. They were first on the ball, quick on the break with Manyovu and Barry Steenkamp stretching the defence led by Siboniso Mamba who later limped off. 

The army side started slowly and found the going tough. Mlilo nearly opened the scoring, three minutes from kick off, when his indirect free kick squeezed through the ball before bouncing off the upright, with Nhalnhla Gwebu well beaten.

Six minutes later, Phiwa Dlamini was penalised for a handball inside his own half, and from the free kick, Mlilo’s stunner was parried for corner.

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