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SA LEGENDS TOO GOOD FOR ESWATINI

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Eswatini Legends..... (1)3
Sis Monica 11th, Tony 69th, Wonder 72nd
SA Legends.............. (3)5


Manzini 5th, 31st, 66th, Ndlovu 40th, Shai 85th

MANZINI – The much hyped Sibusiso ‘Spoko’ Dlamini Testimonial match ended in defeat for Eswatini Legends at the Mavuso Sports Centre yesterday.


Close to 1 000 locals turned up to support the local legend in what was officially his last football match. A number of his former teammates from South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs and local side Royal Leopard also attended the match.
‘Spoko’ constantly changed sides as he also played for the visiting South Africans, but his impact in the game was minimal.


The visitors started well and forced the opposition to defend for much of the opening stages. They were duly rewarded after only nine minutes when former Mamelodi Sundowns defender Michael Manzini scored the opening goal of the match after good work from Stanton Fredericks on the right.


Incredibly, Fredericks, who retired in 2015 after turning up for Bidvest Wits in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), played the entire 90 minutes without the sporadic substitutions enjoyed by most of the players.
The South Africans’ lead was short-lived as Celumusa ‘Sista Monica’ Vilakati found himself free on goal in the 11th minute to bring the locals on level terms.
Dennis ‘Yuki’ Masina wasted a good chance to give the Eswatini side the lead when he was released by John ‘Junior Shisa’ Mdluli in the 28th minute, but he failed to finish with the keeper at his mercy.


Manzini then took full advantage when he latched onto a through ball from midfield to score the second goal for the SA Legends. A third goal by Manzini five minutes before the break snuffed out any hopes of  the locals’ comeback.
At the interval, Eswatini brought on Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze and Wonder ‘Samba Jive’ Nhleko to try and force a win, but it was not to be as the South Africans appeared to gain momentum with every kick. A fourth goal was imminent, and it duly came. The sad part was that it was a defender who was a thorn to the locals. Manzini completed his hat-trick with a smart finish in the 66th minute to put the score beyond the locals’ reach.


Sensing defeat, Tony and Wonder raised their game and both scored to reduce the deficit in the 69th and 72nd minute, respectively. Spoko had switched sides at the start of the second half to play 20 minutes for the South Africans, before he came back to try and rescue his countrymen.
His efforts were in vain as Kaizer Chiefs legend Isaac Shai saved the best for last with a thunderous left foot strike that left Njabuliso Simelane bemused in goal.


Referee Gilbert Dlamini soon blew to end the contest with the locals smarting from embarrassment. The day belonged to ‘Spoko’, and most of the South Africans shook hands with him at the final whistle as he officially put a stop to a glorious career that saw him mesmerise defences with his sublime skills.


Stanton ‘Stiga’ Fredericks was the most popular player with the fans after the game, but he too bowed to the local legend as a sign of respect for a player who stood against the odds at Kaizer Chiefs to put the Kingdom of Eswatini on the world map. At Sihlangu, Spoko will be remembered for the 1999 COSAFA Castle Cup when they reached the semi-finals with the likes of Dennis ‘Yuki’ Masina, Siza ‘King Pele’ Dlamini, Bongani Ndezi Masangane and other legends.

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