Home | Sports | POOR START TO 2026 WORLD CUP QUALIFIER AS ... LIBYA BREAKS SIHLANGU HEARTS

POOR START TO 2026 WORLD CUP QUALIFIER AS ... LIBYA BREAKS SIHLANGU HEARTS

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

MBOMBELA – In the first game of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, Libya’s Ahmed Ekrawa scored early in the second half to secure a 1-0 victory over Eswatini.

The tightly contested match took place at Mbombela Stadium in front of a crowd of over 100 fans. With this win, Libya temporarily took the lead in Group D with three points, while Eswatini remained at the bottom of the log with zero points.

However, the final standings could change depending on the outcome of the match between Cameroon and Mauritius later in the day. Eswatini, wearing a new blue Umbro kit, started the game brightly, creating chances and dominating possession. The hosts controlled the game and displayed excellent ball distribution.

Powerful

Bongwa ‘Owa’ Matsebula had an opportunity to open the scoring for Eswatini, but his powerful volley went wide just before the half-hour mark. Sihlangu’s first-choice goalkeeper, Khanyakezwe Shabalala, made a beautiful save to deny Ekrawa a goal just before the half hour mark.

As the first half progressed, Eswatini continued to enjoy good possession and forced the Libyan defence to spend most of their time defending. Philani ‘Mkasabuli’ Mkhonto had a chance to shoot after dribbling past two defenders, but he opted to pass the ball, which was subsequently cleared off the box 15 minutes before halftime.

Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa also came close to scoring with a header that narrowly missed the target, with five minutes before the break. However, Libya’s resolute defence kept the hosts at bay, and the first half ended goalless. After the break, Eswatini came out aggressively, but they were caught off guard as Ekrawa found himself unmarked and finished from close range to beat Shabalala eight minutes after the restart.

This goal sparked scenes of celebration from the Libyan team and their coach, Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic, who is a former Orlando Pirates coach. Despite making changes, introducing the trio of Mbabane Swallows’ Ayanda ‘Gandaganda’ Gadlela, Neliswa ‘Tiger’ Dlamini and Sizolwethu ‘Nunu’ Shabalala and Nsingizini Hotspurs’ Neliso ‘Shaka’ Myeni, Eswatini’s hopes of a comeback were dashed, and they were unable to find the equaliser.

As the clock ticked towards full time, Coach Dominic Kunene’s frustration was evident, as his team tried to force a draw but ultimately fell short. It was a sluggish start for Eswatini in the World Cup qualifiers, and they will need to regroup and aim for better results in their upcoming match against Cape Verde. The match was watched by new Minister of Sports, Culture and Your Affairs Bongani Nzima and Eswatini Football Association (EFA) President Peter ‘Samora’ Simelane, among other top football officials from Eswatini. The match was broadcast live on SABC Sport.

Comments (0 posted):

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image: