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LEOPARD BACK HOME, OVER E500K DOWN THE DRAIN

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MBABANE – After leaving the country on Tuesday for Algeria, Eswatini CAF envoys Royal Leopard have returned back home.

The police ensemble side had to make a U-turn in Egypt, after it was reported that all flights to Turkey were cancelled. The 31-member delegation was going to honour the second leg of the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup in Algeria. The game had been rescheduled for the fourth time to today in Algeria. The Police side were due to leave the country on Sunday for the game that was initially scheduled for yesterday but due to some travelling restrictions in some of the European countries, they failed to take the trip. They had to leave on Tuesday. According to a source close to the matter, Eswatini Football Association (EFA) spent over E500 000 in air tickets for the return trip. The source further asserted that despite that Leopard did not complete their trip, EFA would still pay the full amount. The trip could have seen Leopard travel through O.R Tambo International Airport, travel to Ethiopia, take another flight to Egypt before flying to Turkey.

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Their final destination would be Algeria. According to cheapflights.com the average tickets expenditure for these aforementioned trips tally to E500 000. The game’s initial dates were December 5, 2021, but due to the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, it was postponed twice in December. “The trip has been aborted due to bad weather at Istanbul Airport. When we arrived in Cairo, we discovered that all flights to Instanbul had been cancelled.We were advised that this would last for four days,” The Head of Delegation, Nichodimus ‘Ace’ Mashwama, confirmed the latest development.  Leopard Public Relations Officer (PRO) Frank Hurube said the news were disturbing, just when they were ready to finally honour the second leg. “It is really sad. However, there is nothing we can do about it because it was due circumstances beyond our control. This trip has drained us and demoralised the spirit of the players since they were ready for the game,” Hurube said. He said they would hear from EFA on when the game would be staged.

EFA President Peter ‘Samora’ Simelane also confirmed the cancellation of the game. “We have written to CAF about this unfortunate incident so we are waiting on their response,” Simelane said. Asked about air ticket money that had gone to the drain, he said: “We are still shell-shocked about the latest development, I am short of words for now,” he said briefly.
The police side beat the Algerian side 1-0 in the first leg which was played at Mavuso Sports Centre on November 28.  The winner between the two sides will join group B in the group stages that comprise of South Africa’s Orlando Pirates, JS Saoura (Algeria) and Al Ittihad (Libya). Leopard did not play their week 12 of the MTN Premier League against Young Buffaloes as they were due to leave for the CAF clash.

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