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3 KNOCKOUT TOURNEYS IN DOUBT

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MBABANE – The delay in the MTN Premier League is putting the knockouts tournaments in serious doubt for the 2020/21 season.

For the first time in history, the three tournaments, being the Ingwenyama Cup, EswatiniBank Cup and the Eswatini Telecom Charity Cup are scheduled for end of the MTN Premier League.

What makes the situation worse is the inclusion of regional teams in the Ingwenyama Cup and EswatiniBank Cup with regional football still under lockdown since March, 2020.

Only two of the MTN Premier League fixtures have been played since its resumption on December 12, 2020. 

The current season was expected to end in May, but the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) reserved the month of June and July to complete the season in case there are delays during the course, of the year as it is already the case.

initial

The MTN Premier League is played for 10 months normally and already, four months are remaining before the initial date (May) to end the season. 

EFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frederick Mngomezulu said it was under their plan to play the knockout tournaments at the end of the MTN Premier League, but the challenge was that regional football especially the Super League, was still under lockdown since March last year.

“Our proposed plan was to play the knockouts tournaments at the end of the MTN Premier League. 

‘‘The attention will be given to the league for now and then the plan is to have the tournaments at the end but there are challenges. Two of the knockout tournaments, in the Ingwenyama Cup and EswatiniBank Cup feature teams from Super Leagues that have not yet started playing. 

‘‘There is no time frame as all depends on the situation of COVID-19. We are going to continue to monitor the situation while keeping tabs with the relevant stakeholders,” he said.

Only the Ingwenyama Cup was completed last season with the finals played on March 8, a week before all sporting codes were suspended in the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The EswatiniBank Cup was suspended the previous day of the quarter-finals with the MTN Premier League called off with eight games remaining, but Buffaloes where handed the championship title.

Government only allowed organised football that is played behind closed doors and that is the MTN Premier League, MTN National First Division and the national teams only. Regional football and women’s football remained suspended since March last year.

started

Normally, the Ingwenyama Cup could have started with the EswatiniBank Cup starting early February and the Charity Cup is the season opener in August. 

Meanwhile, the EFA gave hope to the regional teams as they extended the registration period to January 29 after majority of team failed to meet the Friday deadline. Mngomezulu said for now, there was no time frame as to win the regional teams will bounce back to action.

Meanwhile in South Africa, the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) told the Premier Soccer League that it was unable to produce the usual eight amateur teams this year due to their leagues being cancelled because of COVID-19. The Nedbank Cup will now only include the Premier Soccer League and National First Division league clubs.

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