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Mbabane Highlanders unfortunately have an egg splashed on their face after failing to tighten their grip on their then prized asset in Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa.

After a tug-of-war over the player’s signature in recent weeks, Green Mamba had the last laugh after convincing the player to come on board in a matter of hours. It is undoubtedly the biggest catch for the green and white ensemble. It is just what the doctor ordered for Ernest Mavuso’s men’s revival bid, after finishing on an unrespectable ninth spot on the charts in the past season.


The two-time league winners have made a strong statement about their intention to leave a mark in the upcoming season. However, ‘Sikhali’ alone cannot steer the team to greater heights.  They still need an overhaul and to bring on board more quality to blend the squad, as most players in the team are nearing their ‘sell by date’. For ‘Sikhali’, it is the dawn of a new era, as he will play for a team outside the ‘Big Three’ for the first time since he shot to stardom back in 2012. Some of Highlanders’ faithful fans may feel betrayed about the departure, but it should be the least of the Sihlangu’s marksman concerns.


He should focus on the task at hand. Highlanders had all the time to convince the player to remain on board, but they kept dilly-dallying until he was snatched under their nose. Rescuing the player from the wilderness when he was banned in South Africa over two years ago did not mean the player would stick with the black and white ensemble forever. The biggest mistake Highlanders made was the failure to ensure that ‘Sikhali’ got a contract extension before the end of the past season. Allowing the player to run out of contract was tantamount to setting themselves up for failure, because they were not only bound to have competition from fellow ‘big guns’ but also came the issue of an increased demand.


With so much interest and signing-on-fees hitting the E150 000 mark, it meant Highlanders needed to table a better offer to keep the gifted forward on board. It is a tough lesson for Highlanders, but they should now close the ‘Sikhali’ chapter and look to build a formidable squad for another gruelling season. They should remember Henry Van Dyke’s quote which says: “time is too slow for those who wait; too swift for those who fear; too long for those who grieve; too short for those who rejoice; but for those who love, time is eternity.” In Africa, the ‘Black Bull’ have a CAF Confederation Cup campaign to worry about and standing in their way in the first hurdle are South Africa’s Royal AM who are led by the flamboyant Shauwn ‘Mamkhize’ Mkhize.


At 31, the player, on the other hand, made the right call by joining a team that can offer him more than a playing contract. It is often said that footballers are at their peak between the ages of 27 and 29. Age is not on his side and the need to plan for life after football cannot be overstated. Eswatini football is not rewarding, so it is no secret that joining these security forces side has become an irresistible opportunity. Detractors will be quick to conclude that the player will not continue shining at Green Mamba, but that is neither here nor there. At his age, the performance will start declining, as it is the case with most footballers around the world. Normal retirement for a soccer player is from 33 to 37 years old. The average age of retirement is 35 years old.

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