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WAR UNTO YOU!

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NHLANGANO – The 2019 Solo Inje EswatiniBank Cup final later this month will be a repeat of the 2014 edition as defending champions, Young Buffaloes will cross swords with Royal Leopard in an all-security forces teams final.

As records tumbled like a deck of cards here yesterday, two-successive time defending champions Young Buffaloes will be all out to avenge the April 6, 2014 edition cup final 3-1 loss inflicted by the police side on a date yet to be officially announced by the tournament’s Management Committee. Leopard, who saw off a hard fighting Green Mamba through Barry Steenkamp well struck in the 53rd minute goal before over 1 000 fans in a blazing hot Sunday afternoon here yesterday, will be making their record fifth cup final appearance. The police side has – together with Mbabane Swallows – won the tournament three times in 2007 (1-0 against Manzini Sundowns), 2011 (4-3 against Mhlambanyatsi Rovers) and 2014 (3-1 against Young Buffaloes). Young Buffaloes, reigning back-to-back winners of the tournament – just like Mbabane Highlanders, who won it in 2009 and 2010 – after beating Matsapha United 2-0 in 2017 and Manzini Wanderers 2-1 in 2018, will be making their third cup final appearance of the country’s most loved club knockout tournament.

EswatiniBank Managing Director Zakhele Lukhele, Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frederick Mngomezulu, Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) Peter ‘Touch’ Magagula, CEO Simanga Nhleko and Chairman of the Management Committee Dr. Comfort Shongwe joined the slightly over 1 000 fans at the modest venue to be witnesses to a scintillating semi-final display. While Leopard avenged the 27 March 2-0 league loss to Green Mamba with a well-struck Steenkamp goal which was enough to see him walk away with the man of the match award which carries a prize of E2 000, Buffaloes were stretched to the limit by a gusty Manzini Sundowns performance which was undone by two missed penalties in a nerve-wrecking penalty shoot-out after 120 minutes barren draw. Young Buffaloes’ experienced goal-minder, Nhlanhla Gwebu, became an instant hero when he saved two penalties against Phumlani Dlamini and Linda Maphalala. Manzini Sundowns, however, will be represented in the final by their sleek Under-20 squad who will face Tambuti FC in the final where a sum of E45 000 is at stake. Hub giants Manzini Wanderers ladies team will face off with Young Buffaloes in a repeat of last year’s Women’s Cup final as the 16th edition of the magical EswatiniBank Cup reaches its zenith.

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