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(At Mavuso Sports Centre)

MANZINI - It’s down to 13 games now and there is still no breaking the Mavuso Sports Centre jinx.

Yesterday was saddest for the country and coach Kostadin Papic, who was in near tears as the national team Sihlangu Semnikati crashed out of the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers and no longer talking Qatar. Instead, the dream lives on for little fancied and lowly-ranked Djibouti under their French coach Julien Mette. Djibouti will now go through to the group stage, which is the second round of the qualifiers billed for next March.


They will swim with the continent’s football giants including Egypt, Algeria, Ghana and Cameroon, among others. It was a stalemate that did not work for Eswatini as they needed to overturn a 2-1 away defeating first legless Wednesday. Eswatini needed only a 1-0 win but it was not to be. It was not the best of games for the locals but they still fought, created chances to not both halves only to no avail.

Papic and the less than 500 cheerful crowd  watched in agony as chances went begging, midfielder Njabulo ‘D4D’ Ndlovu, strikers Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa and Phinda ‘Phindrix’ Dlamini were the unfortunate ones in front of goal. ‘Phindrix’ got the first chance within two minutes from a Lindani ‘Rio’ Matsenjwa pass in the box but instead of taking the initiative and testing the keeper he set up Sikhali but he was quickly closed down.

Man of the match Justice Figuareido had his low cross cut across goalmouth as Sikhali and ‘Phindrix’ all missed it by seconds. Rio also should have put Eswatini ahead before the half-hour mark but miskicked a cross by Lindo Mkhonta while unmarked in the box before ‘D4D’ saw his first time effort go well over the bar at the stroke of half time.

Two minutes of stoppage time was added, which resulted in an outcry from the local fans as Djibouti players were often on the ground with feigned injuries to consume time. It was worse in the second half as the delaying tactics came into play while Eswatini pressed hard for the elusive goal at Mavuso, the venue that continues to haunt local football internationally as there has been no success of a win in 13 matches now in club and national team level.


CAF Confederation Cup envoys Young Buffaloes may have survived against Zambia’s Buildcon but it was through a draw and a win away.
Figuareido pushed the rivals hard in the second half throughout but not even the changes to bring on speedy winger Fanelo ‘Order’ Mamba, midfielders Menzi Sithole and Fanelo Tsabedze could result into a goal despite all of them trying their best, but it was also a little too late. Tsabedze, who took the only real shot in the entire match, saw his 20-yard drive come off the woodwork before it got cleared. 

There were at least three penalty calls from the grandstands and Eswatini players as Tsabedze had defenders handling the ball to stop him from scoring or causing any havoc inside the box. He also had a far post header miss target by inches with the goalkeeper Innocent well beaten. However, Tsabedze’s stoppage time effort summed it all for Sihlangu that they were out of the qualifiers and time.

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