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MBABANE – After successfully winning the ABC Motsepe North West Stream B this season, South Africa’s Black Eagles look set to miss out on the DStv Premiership playoffs.

This follows after they lost the case involving their defender, Siphamandla Mlilo who was found to have been improperly registered from Mbabane Highlanders. North West University FC had lodged a complaint with the South African Football Association (SAFA) over the defender’s return to South Africa after he left Highlanders towards the end of last season. The former Platinum Stars defender was also the team captain for Highlanders. South African media outlets reported the verdict last week, in which the SAFA Disciplinary Committee (DC) had investigated the complaint and found there was a case to be answered by Eagles, who also traded with Highlanders in the Eswatini 2021/22 second transfer window slightly over two months ago when they cleared striker Tshepo Chaine to the current number two, in the MTN Premier League standings.

The DC was held at Mahikeng in North West. “The complaint arises from what the applicant (North West University) considered to be incompatible with the regulations in regard to the registration of players, particularly Rule 16 of the  SAFA Uniform Rules read with FIFA regulations on the status and transfer of players. The Article is set out as follows; 16.1 – An amateur player registered with a club outside South Africa may not be registered with a club having a team in SAFA League Competitions unless SAFA has received an international transfer certificate (ITC) from the national association outside South Africa,” reads the judgement in part. In this instance, as exclusively reported by our sister publication, Eswatini News  early last month, the EFA was the rightful body to issue Mlilo’s ITC to Eagles where it alleged even his clearance was not from Highlanders but another South African team. Due to the verdict, Eagles have been docked 15 points and have since lost the championship spot to the complainant who will now represent the North West stream in the national playoffs to the DStv Premiership.


Mlilo had denied a team had lodged a complaint about his registration while it was confirmed with Highlanders that only his team clearance was issued but the EFA never released his ITC. “Nobody came asking for Mlilo’s ITC when we checked with EFA,” a Highlanders official had confirmed in the initial story while EFA said this was usually between clubs and associations. Article 16.2 clarifies that only SAFA, after a written request in this instance by Eagles, can request for the ITC from EFA. North West University had prayed that Eagles have points docked in matches Mlilo played and won, which was granted. Eagles CEO Mampa Tlhwaele has said they would be appealing the verdict after studying the ruling. His team had finished on 42 points but are now minus 15, which takes them to third while North West moves to the summit and will now play in the playoffs unless the appeal overturns the verdict.  
Meanwhile, SAFA banned Highlanders and national team forward Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa two years ago for double signing after it turned out he had signed for TS Sporting and then Mbombela United.

He played for the latter team which was, after fighting relegation successfully, docked 23 points and relegated because they were found guilty of fielding a defaulter in Sikhali. However, his suspension only affected his career in as far as South African football was concerned. He can return to South Africa next season should offers come as he has served two seasons at Highlanders. Mlilo did not immediately respond when sought yesterday.

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