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’LANDERS VS ’DOWNS IN E200 000 BIBLE SOCIETY CUP

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EZULWINI – The unique ‘Bible in the soccerfield’ annual tournament was officially launched yesterday morning at Royal Swazi Spa Hotel.


The launch’s highlight was the draw as for the first time in the tournament’s three-year history, it will have four teams playing on the same day at Mavuso Sports Centre, on June 15.

The past two editions since 2017 and 2018 had been played by hub sides Manzini Sundowns and Manzini Wanderers who have both won it. This time, Moneni Pirates and Mbabane Highlanders have been included and after the draw was conducted by Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) Chief Operations Officer (COO) Pat Vilakati, the former was pitted against the defending champions Wanderers while Highlanders will have a date with Manzini Sundowns in the semis. Each team, it was gathered outside of the launch, will receive E50 000 participation fee which means a total expenditure of E200 000.


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Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga was the main guest along with some Members of Parliament, pastors from various churches, the Bible Society Eswatini Board Chairperson Dr. Nomsa Mndzebele, teams’ officials and players, as well as supporters, particularly Wanderers’ Sidumo Ngwenya and comedian Gedlembane.


The tournament’s PRO, Comfort ‘Hlasela’ Shongwe, assisted Vilakati with the draw, first by explaining how it would go about. He put two siSwati Bibles on the table, both with the newcomers’ names so all Vilakati had to do was to pick one and that would be Wanderers’ semi-final rivals.


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Vilakati picked the Bible on the left-hand side and it turned out Pirates’ name inside it which made it obvious Highlanders would face Sundowns. However, the tournament’s PRO explained that they would soon release the detailed fixture and programme for the day in which fans and members of the public require a siSwati version of the Bible to enter the stadium. It does not matter what condition the Bible is in but the fact that you brought one will be appreciated by the society as the main purpose of this event is to encourage sportspeople, through football, that God is all over and is behind their talents.


Meanwhile, Sundowns’ defender, Ndumiso ‘Sikhokho’ Shongwe, who stood in for their captain Phumlani Dlamini, said they were grateful to be once again part of this unique event. “It’s a Biblical tournament and episode three for us and Highlanders. This will be ours after they recently beat us in league and I can promise our supporters that as they read their Bibles on the grandstands, we will not disappoint them,” he declared, despite Highlanders beating them 3-2 and 3-0 in both league rounds.


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His counterpart, Sabelo ‘Sawa’ Gamedze, vanished before the players’ interviews as he had represented his captain Xolani ‘Chocco’ Sibandze and had not responded to a text sent to him at the time of going to print. Meanwhile, Wanderers’ Lwazi ‘Shana’ Maziya declared they were out to defend their title in what he expects will once again be that befitting atmosphere for a tournament promoting God’s word.


“We got newcomers but we don’t fear them. We are simply going to shut them down and defend the trophy as much we know they’ll come with the purpose to win it too,” he said.


Pirates’ Menzi ‘Magawugawu’ Simelane said they had always watched this tournament from afar but now they have an opportunity to shine in it and that is what they would be out to do against Wanderers and whoever they meet in the final between Sundowns and Highlanders.

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