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MBABANE – Estranged Mbabane Highlanders midfielder Lindani ‘Rio’ Matsenjwa still has room at the black and white outfit.

This is the position of the club in as far as their young and talented stalwart is concerned. ‘Rio’ has been absent without official leave (AWOL) despite having a running five-year contract, which is in its third year. The club’s South African Managing Director, Chief Ally Kgomongwe, has reaffirmed his stance that ‘he is our player with a running contract’. He is also a former senior national team player under Serbian coach Kostadin Papic. “We have managed position two in the league without ‘Rio’. We also won the Bible Society Cup without him and ‘Sikhali’ (Sabelo Ndzinisa) was out with an injury, which shows we’re not a one-man team but work together.

“Rio has a contract with us but he must return to face me and my management with an apology then we’ll decide from there,” Kgomongwe said about the player who last appeared for the Capital City giants in the first round last season. The two parties were reportedly having a bone to chew before the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Player’s Status Committee after ‘Rio’ reported his employer for an alleged non-salary payment for a period of three months. However, that case has never seen the light of day, despite Highlanders twice showing up but only to be told the matter had been postponed after requests or challenges from the player’s side.


“He needs to calm himself and be able to convince me and the management that he is truly remorseful for his actions which have cost him as we’re not paying for non-service delivery. He must apologise and return to play football,” Kgomongwe insisted. This would not be the first time Kgomongwe received an apology from the same player for similar actions, as in the first instance, he (‘Rio’) did not return for preseason and missed several games in the league first round before he returned and faced Mbabane Swallows, among his few games. Meanwhile, Highlanders were least worried by the Status Committee case, after sharing all transactions with this publication of the player receiving his salary with a loan deduction in the alleged three months.

Efforts to get ‘Rio’s comment on the latest proved unfruitful despite numerous efforts to contact him. He was also texted without success. Highlanders’ Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mandla Madonsela affirmed that Kgomongwe and the management committee were ready to hear the player out, while also making it clear that ‘the team was bigger than all of them’.

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