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LOBAMBA – Only two Eswatini internationals are in the squad to face Djibouti in a 2022 World Cup preliminary round first leg qualifier tomorrow.

Left out of the travelling squad was South Africa’s National First Division League side Mbombela United injured forward Justice ‘Figa’ Figuareido and winger Banele ‘Pupu’ Sikhondze of Absa Premiership outfit Polokwane City. The latter could just not make the cut. An 18-member squad left the country on Sunday to honour the clash and Mbombela United marksman Felix Badenhorst and his teammate in forward Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa were the only Eswatini exports.

There was also no place for forward Allen Mabuza, who is caught up in an ownership battle between Mbabane Highlanders and Black Swallows. Selected from the 27-member squad was a core of the players who helped Eswatini qualify for the final round of the African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers. They include the two goalkeepers Sandanezwe Mathabela of Mbabane Swallows and Royal Leopard’s Phephisani Msibi.


Coach Kostadin Papic said the players who were left behind were not dropped, but would remain in camp for the second leg against Djibouti next Tuesday (September 10). Speaking during a farewell function at the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Technical Centre in Lobamba two days ago, the reputable gaffer expressed hope that his troops would be mentally ready for the outing. “This is one of the most important matches in your career guys. This is the first and most important step,” Papic told the players. “Players who are going to travel will give 100 per cent. We’re going to fight like never before. We have potential; we have quality.”

The team led by EFA Executive Committee member Sonnyboy Mabuza left by road on Sunday to spend the night in Johannesburg, South Africa. They connected a flight to Djibouti via Ethiopia early yesterday. They were expected io arrive at their final destination late yesterday. Bidding farewell to the team was EFA President Adam ‘Bomber’ Mthethwa, who passed a vote of confidence on both the players and the technical team.

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