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Bame Morwalela 40th
Mothusi Cooper 88th

MBABANE – A weakened Eswatini national team Sihlangu was yesterday officially booted out of the Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup 2022 after losing 2-0 to Botswana in the Plate Tournament semi-finals.

Eswatini head coach Dominic Kunene used an unfamiliar starting line-up which was without regulars in three goals scorer and assistant captain Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa and Captain Lindo Mkhonta who were named among the substitutes but did not play. It was established Sikhali suffered a shoulder injury against Senegal despite having finished the match that ended with defeat following sudden death penalties. This was in the semifinals of the COSAFA Cup before Eswatini dropped to the Plate Tournament with less prestige.

Meanwhile, also starting for Sihlangu was midfielder Andy Junior Magagula ahead of Siboniso Ngwenya. Junior was later on rested for Leon Manyisa. Other players who started on the bench were Philani Mkhontfo and Sikhumbuzo Magagula. In front, the Kunene-led side started with Sandile ‘Saviola’ Gamedze and the young Ngwenya who had his first national cap.


It was the Rahman Gumbo-led Zebras’ goal in each half by the Zebras, as the Tswana national team is nicknamed, proved enough to see off Sihlangu who looked ready to finally break the duck against their rivals who they have not beaten in 19 years. However, that was not to be, instead Sihlangu will have to try harder in the TOTALEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2022 Qualifiers next Saturday when the two nations clash again in the away first leg. Zebras scored through Bame Morwalela five minutes before the break and the second came from Mothusi Cooper two minutes from regular time.

Last year, Sihlangu played to a 1-all draw with the Zebras while in 2018 they suffered a 2-0 defeat. In 2013, Sihlangu settled for a goalless draw while losing 1-0 in 2009. This defeat denied Sihlangu a dream final with an exciting South Africa’s Bafana who also dropped to the Plate Tournament after losing to Mozambique in a shoot-out.

Like Sihlangu and Senegal’s Lions of Teranga, the full-time score was 1-all. The final is billed for tomorrow at 11am at the Moses Mabhida Stadium before the main COSAFA Cup third-place playoff at 3:30pm and the main final at 7pm. In the main tournament semifinals are Namibia against Mozambique at 5pm and Zambia against Senegal at 7pm yesterday respectively. Furthermore, Sihlangu’s defeat also means they will be returning home without a medal when they had looked to improve from last year’s bronze medal after losing in the main tournament semifinals to Senegal.
Back to the game, Kunene started with youngsters like Nhlanhla Ngwenya and welcomed back man of the match for the second time in the tournament, Fanelo ‘Order’ Mamba who missed the semi-final match due to suspension.

The Zebras annihilated Sihlangu when the latter had topped Group B in the group stages after a 3-0 win against Mauritius, 1-1 with feared Malawi’s Flames and 2-0 win over Lesotho’s Likuena. Botswana had also topped Group A, but lost to Zambia in the semis. A penalty shoot-out decided the match, Zambia winning 5-4 in penalties after playing to 1-1 in regular time.


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