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WANDERERS, SIHLANGU COST EFA OVER E420K

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MBABANE – Due to COVID-19, associations have to pay big to participate in some of the COSAFA competitions this year and the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) has not been spared.

The EFA recently paid E270 000 (US$20 000) participation fee for the senior national team Sihlangu Semnikati’s COSAFA Cup campaign in Port Elizabeth where bronze was attained. COSAFA announced before the COSAFA Men’s Championship that there would be participation fees for the two tournaments as there were currently no sponsors with most companies still affected by COVID-19. Yet another tournament gets underway as of August 26 to September 4 in Durban, South Africa (SA), that being the inaugural COSAFA Women’s Champions League which is also a Zonal qualifier for the first ever CAF (Confederation of African Football), Women’s Champions League set for Egypt later this year. Eswatini is represented by the last Women Football League champions, Manzini Wanderers, who have not had the privilege of competition since March last year due to COVID-19.

Costly

It will be another costly competition as it also has a US$10 000 participation fee requirement for all the seven clubs in the tournament. The fee when converted amounts to E148 900. This fee is much higher than what the champions received as their prize in the league as they got ‘around E10 000 or E12 000’. When both the Sihlangu and Wanderers fees are combined, they total E420 000. Sihlangu received E150 000 for finishing third, E70 000 less than what they paid to play in the tournament. Fortunately, the participation fee will not bar them from the competition in which they open against Botswana’s Double Action on August 26, which is just under 10 days at the King Zwelithini Stadium. The EFA has footed the bill for them. “The EFA shouldered the costs for participation which according to COSAFA, is US$10 000 and that is around E150 000 or so,” said a source close to the matter. The exact fee is E148 900. Wanderers were called and questioned about the finances required to make their whole journey to Durban and their participation in the competition a success. That is where it came out that they needed at least E260 000 or slightly more but were already at 90 per cent with that.

However, the team Secretariat Thabani Hadzebe was called on Tuesday about the participation fee but would neither confirm nor deny the news. “I’m in no position to talk about the team’s finances regarding the participation fee you’re asking me about but I can refer you to our directors,” he said. Efforts to get comment from Mehluli Nhlengetfwa proved futile yesterday. EFA Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi Radebe said the EFA had always come in to assist where it could especially when teams were on international duty.

Sponsors

However, he said he would have to double check on this particular issue to be certain they paid or the club handled the bill itself. COSAFA announced before the COSAFA Men’s Championship that there would be participation fees for the two tournaments as there were currently no sponsors as most companies were still affected by COVID-19. Meanwhile, Wanderers’ COSAFA campaign in the competition as per the group A teams will be against, Botswana’s Double Action next Thursday, and two days later face Lesotho Defence Force before the main one with South African giants and tournament favourites Mamelodi Sundowns on August 30. All matches are billed for the King Zwelithini Stadium. The top two team in each of the two groups, A and B will progress to the semis with the last two going through to the finals and champions qualifying for the  first ever CAF Women’s Champions League 2021 set for November and December this year in Egypt.

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