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MHLUME – It took 1 455 days for Green Mamba to ascend to the podium and claim their third MTN Premier League title.

After a nerve-wrecking title race,  Ernest Mavuso’s men  scored in each half to be crowned the 2022/23 MTN Premier League champions, after beating defending champions Royal Leopard 2-1 here yesterday. Inyoka Eluhlazane came to this game seeking for a draw to win the title they last tasted in 2019. This was their third league crown since the team was founded in 1987. It was the 2022/23 MTN Premier League Player of the Season contender in skipper Mxolisi Mkhonto and midfield maestro Njabulo Maziya who sealed the crown for the Correctional Services side and confirmed them as the latest millionaires after claiming the E1 million first prize. They both striked in each half to attract celebrations from the Correctional side ‘supporters’, who came in numbers to witness their team crowned by MTN Eswatini Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wandile Mtshali.

It was expectedly an emotional moment for coach Mavuso who tasted league success for the first time  and he sprawled on the turf in sheer ecstasy at the end, after being forced to look over his shoulders by Young Buffaloes who took  the race took to the last day of the season. The army side won 4-0 in the decider against Tambankulu Callies, but it was not enough as they needed a Leopard win to win it head-to-head. It was the evergreen Mxolisi Mkhonto who broke the deadlock 12 minutes into the game, when he connected brilliantly a cross from Man of the Match Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa. He controlled the ball and let fly a scorcher which gave Leopard’s goalkeeper Mlamuli Makhanya no chance between the sticks. Makhanya was called to action again as he made a daring save to deny Green Mamba the second goal.

Leopard kept possession and never made clear cut chances at goal and the last chance of the first stanza fell on the host as Mkhonto’s grasping shot missed the target with the goalkeeper at bay. Referee Letticia Viana blew his whistle to rest the sides and the score was 1-0 at half time. On resumption of play, Green Mamba pushed for the second goal which eventually came four minutes into the second half through Njabulo Maziya, who tapped in from a ground shot by Sikhali, to make it 2-0. Ingwe Mabalabala gaffer Edwin Matsebula rested Kelvin Kunene for Bongane Ndzimandze.  

Just after the substitution, Leopard were awarded a set piece at the edge of the box and Junior Magagula made no mistake, but to drive the ball in the far corner of the net. This happened two minutes after the hour-mark. The teams kept each other on toes in search of goals until the referee signalled for the end of the game which confirmed Green Mamba, as the 2022/23 MTN Premier League champions and in the process giving them a ticket to the 2023/24 TotalEnergies CAF Champions League.
Cautions; Yellows Cards
Sifiso Matse (R. Leopard)

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