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MBABANE – It is back to square one for relegation-threatened Matsapha United in the ‘towel incident’ case against Royal Leopard.

Just when the Mhlume-based ensemble were celebrating getting maximum points and three goals, which moved them off the foot of the table via the boardroom, the police side has since burst their bubble.

The latter have since appealed the February 7, 2019 verdict by the Disciplinary Committee. They were found guilty of causing the abandonment of their MTN Premier League game.

They now want a replay to be ordered by the Appeals Board, which is the supreme judicial body in local football.
The matter was heard on Monday night by the Ndumiso Shongwe-chaired Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Appeals Board and judgement was reserved until next Wednesday.

The charges had emanated from an incident which happened in Mhlume late last year. With the score between the sides goalless before resumption of play, a fan, who was allegedly from the visiting team, grabbed the Matsapha goalkeeper Innocent Obodai Adja’s towel and vanished into thin air. A fruitful chase for the fan began while the game was eventually abandoned.


In the appeal, Leopard challenged the guilty verdict of the Disciplinary Committee on grounds that the incident allegedly happened outside the field of play and was not an invasion.

The DC had found them guilty of contravening Article 4.18 of the Rules and Regulations, which is about causing the abandonment of a match by invading the field of play, throwing missiles or refusing to play. On top of forfeiting points to the opposition, they were further slapped with a E50 000 fine as per the rules.
Leopard are represented by well-known lawyer Zakhele Dlamini and the representation was confirmed by team PRO Frank Hurube. 


“We’re aware of the appeal.
“We were represented by our CEO ‘Internash’ (lawyer Martin Dlamini). We’re still waiting for the verdict,” said Matsapha PRO Bheka Magagula.
A verdict different from the one issued by the DC can lead to a major shake-up on the league charts. As it stands, Matsapha are only a place above the drop zone on superior goal difference to Vovovo. Losing the three points can relegate the former back to the basement. Contenders for the wooden spoon at the moment are Mbabane Citizens, who are on 15 points.

For Leopard, who are five points clear at the top, a replay can provide them with an opportunity to stretch their lead to eight points. Six games are left before the curtain falls on what has been an enthralling 2018/19 campaign.

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