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ZAMBIA FLIGHTS COST EFA OVER E400K

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MBABANE – The appeal for financial support by Royal Leopard in their TOTALEnergies CAF Champions League journey is still on.

CAF denotes Confederation of African Football. Getting through the first preliminary round of the continent’s prestigious club competition, Leopard did not do it without financial costs. Most importantly, their successful flight to Zambia to play the second leg against ZESCO United last Saturday was backed by the Peter ‘Samora’ Simelane-led Eswatini Football Association (EFA). The EFA catered for 30 air tickets for Leopard who connected in Johannesburg for the match they lost 2-1, but progressed on the away goals rule after a 2-2 aggregate score.  “Each ticket was just over E7 000. Buffaloes were covered for air tickets,” said a source at the police ensemble.

The source also said nearly the same number was covered for Young Buffaloes who played Zambia’s Rec Arrows in the TOTALEnergies CAF Confederation Cup and in the end, the EFA spent over E400 000 for the two teams’ trips. “We’re grateful for the success of getting past ZESCO and we thank the unity between management, players and technical as well as our leadership which always supports us. We also want to thank the EFA for its great role in ensuring we got to Zambia and believe and hope that we still have a long way to go with them,” Leopard’s PRO Frank Hurube  responded.

He also affirmed that they had 30 air tickets catered for by the EFA, but they still needed financial assistance as they were off to Angola next, which is calculated at the same rate for Buffaloes, with each ticket said to cost around E7 300, the total figure is E438 000. “This competition requires a lot of money as we’ll soon resume full-time camp. Take COVID-19 testing, provide meals for camp and travel as well as air tickets. We need all the support we can get. Our national commissioner (NatCom) and team president did a beautiful thing when he started the campaign from within. “Now we’re appealing to all companies and all business people to come forward and assist as we are not only about Leopard now, but we carry the country’s flag,” Hurube said.

Tougher

He added that the next game would be tougher than ZESCO because they had no clue about Angola’s Sagrada. “We have to do well away where we start and then finish the job at home to get the group stage where we’ll at least get money to continue with the other games. They are a closed book to us just like we are to them,” Hurube said. He appealed for all the support from the nation as they targeted reaching the group stage for the first time, following in the footsteps of Mbabane Swallows. The first leg is scheduled for the weekend of October 15-17 away while the second leg at Mavuso Sports Centre in Manzini a week later – about E8.1 million awaits Leopard if they get past Sagrada after the two legs. Meanwhile, Buffaloes CEO Sandile Gwebu said ‘it wasn’t the first time we got help from EFA. They always look at what is most costly and take care of it so we’re very thankful. If anything, it is encouraging clubs to participate in the CAF tournaments,” he said.

The army side were ousted out by Arrows after losing 2-1 away and then playing to a goalless draw at home last Saturday, losing on 2-1 aggregate. EFA Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi Radebe said it had become a norm for the EFA to assist clubs. “We did it for Wanderers recently when they played in the COSAFA Champions League and helping clubs in the CAF competitions is something we do as EFA,” he said. Radebe would not get into the details, but affirmed generally that the local football mother body was putting its weight behind clubs on international duty. It is worth noting that Leopard are in the competition by virtue of being the MTN Premier League 2020/21 champions and received E1 million as their prize plus E80 000 extra from the sponsor to boost the CAF preparations.

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