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MAJOR BOOST AHEAD OF AFCON QUALIFIERS: ‘SAVIOLA’ SET FOR SIHLANGU RETURN

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MBABANE – The national team Sihlangu technical bench has more options to add to their firepower upfront as Young Buffaloes’ Sandile ‘Saviola’ Gamedze is eligible to be selected.

The army side’s sharpshooter was last selected for national duties in June last year, ahead of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Togo. The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) then unceremoniously dropped him from Dominic Kunene’s squad on June 8.

This happened barely a few days after he was arrested for alleged rape. “The Eswatini Football Association, on discussions with the national team management, has since decided that the player, Sandile Gamedze, be released from the national team’s duties.

“This, therefore, implies that he will not be available for selection in the national team’s forthcoming AFCON 2023 qualifier match against Togo and the COSAFA Cup 2023 competition,” EFA had said in a statement during the suspension. EFA Marketing and Communications Manager Muzi ‘Rhoo’ Radebe has said the player is eligible to play, should the coaches select him.

Ban

“It was not a ban, but the player was released for reasons between the player and the EFA. He was part of the team and he was later released, not banned. It’s now up to the coaches selection and should he be selected, they will consult with EFA,” Radebe said. From then on, he did not form part of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers matches played in November. However, according to the latest information gathered by this publication, he might form part of the national team if the technical team decides to select him.

Coach Kunene and his assistants Ernest Mavuso and Sifiso ‘Nuro’ Ntibane are set to announce the squad set to face Somalia next month in the 2025 AFCON preliminary rounds. Kunene, when reached yesterday, said they were looking for guidance from EFA in relation to the national team status of the players. “I think if we see that the player could assist us, we would consult with EFA, as our parent, on how to navigate through,” he said briefly when asked yesterday.

The attacker, who won the man of the match twice during the 2022 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Senior Men’s Championships, is at his best form so far this season. He is contesting for the Ingwenyama Cup Golden Boot Award. He is on five goals, just one behind leading scorer Mphucuko ‘Smoothies’ Dlamini, who has six goals. On the other hand, he has netted eight league goals, just six shy of Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa.

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