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IT’S JULY 10 OR E4K FINE PER PLAYER

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MBABANE – There is definitely no time for a break for Royal Leopard and Mbabane Highlanders as CAF has set July 10, 2022 as the interclub 2022/23 competitions registration of players’ deadline.

CAF denotes Confederation of African Football. Leopard, by virtue of being the MTN Premier League champions again, for the recently finished season, are off to represent Eswatini in the TOTALEnergies CAF Champions League again. For the second-tier inter-club tournament, the TOTALEnergies CAF Confederation Cup, it will be Mbabane Highlanders who make a return to continental football nine years since they last participated. Both these teams and others that qualified to stand for their national associations and countries have only until July 10 to have completed their registration of players.

This, in essence, means Leopard and Highlanders have about two weeks to fix their squads with incomings and outgoings, get all the necessary paperwork especially where foreign players are concerned ready and renew contracts of players they intend to keep as of yesterday. It is an open secret that some players’ contracts have and are coming to an end as of this month-end. At Highlanders, main forward and Captain Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa is among more than 10 players the team’s Managing Director Chief Ally Kgomongwe has to engage.
Failure to meet the registration deadline would cost any club, and a team willing to make registration of any player as of July 11 to July 20 will be required to part with US$250, currently an equivalent of E4 005 per player. This is contained in Article IV (5) of the Confederation Cup regulations under registration and qualification of players.

For the Champions League, it is Article 5 as well. Article 5 (5) provides that a club can register 30 players with their valid licences while sub-section 6 states that; “The list must be registered before July 10 of the year of the start of the competition. It can be amended until July 20t but after that the list becomes final and no players can be added nor replaced up to the end of the competition, except in the case contemplated above para 2, 4 and the below para 7.” Sub-section 7 provides that after July 21, no new player can be added or replaced but associations or federations are allowed four alterations in the last period of registration if the said players have never been fielded in the competition matches of actual season as of July 21 and 31 but they only qualify to the second preliminary round. It is in sub-section that teams are expected to pay a fine of E4 005 per player if they register between July 11 and 20.

A team that has not registered its players by next month forfeits the right to play in the competition. Meanwhile, after the July 31, the next registration window for players will be in January 2023.  “We are working around the clock to register the team on time. We know we have to handle some contracts but like I said, our players know where they belong and those with contract issues are definitely not worried because they know it will be dealt with in no time,” Kgomongwe responded when questioned about the registration timelines.

He said the registration should be completed soon but he would share some details during the team’s end-of-season celebration event scheduled for this Saturday in Ezulwini, CODEC. Kgomongwe hinted that they would release a handful of players and retain a majority of the team. He also added that they were on the path to having their own women team to go with its development as well as the boys’ under-17s and 15s teams. CAF had last November dropped the Club Licensing bombshell that as of this season, all qualifying clubs for their two competitions must have women football teams or they will not qualify. However, a few months later, it was announced that the requirement which had shaken the whole continent would render the interclub competitions almost boring as fewer teams comply, will come into effect in the 2023/24 editions. This means all clubs must establish the women football teams in the upcoming season to avoid the disappointment. The regulations are the same for the Champions League and under Article 5.

Women

Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Communications and Marketing Officer, Muzi Radebe said CAF regulated its own tournaments while also explaining the women football teams’ requirement was needed with immediate effect. “We can continue to encourage teams to go all out and establish the women football teams as the next edition of the CAF interclub tournaments after the upcoming one will be tougher to play in due to the implementation of the licensing requirement,” he explained. Leopard’s Frank Hurube said they were ready in as far CAF Club Licensing requirements were concerned and now working on players’ registration as the deadline was close yet they also planned on beefing up the squad.  Meanwhile, the Champions League and Confederation Cup resume in mid-September with the preliminary round first legs and second legs end of September. The draw is yet to be held for both competitions.

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