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SIHLANGU’S OVER E0.8M MOROCCO BILL

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MBABANE – Eswatini national team Sihlangu Semnikati will once again spend millions of Emalangeni, as they return to Morocco for their first leg match against Somalia.

Reports suggest that Somalia, who are without an approved stadium, have chosen Morocco as the host venue for next month’s 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifiers match against Eswatini. The clash is set for March 20, while Eswatini will host Somalia on March 26 with the preferred venue yet to be known. The Somali Athlete, which is their (Somalia) official social media page confirmed that Somalia will play their home game in Morocco recently.

calculations

This means that Eswatini Football Association (EFA) will foot a huge bill for travelling costs alone. According to calculations by this publication, EFA will spend more than E800 000 should a delegation of over 25 people travel for the match. Nevertheless, the delegation’s size remains unknown as it will be confirmed when Sihlangu departs for their first leg match. This publication earlier revealed that EFA spent around E1.2 million in away matches, as disclosed by EFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mngomezulu, during Sihlangu Indaba held at SibaneSami Hotel in January. This includes money spent on air tickets and accommodation, among other essentials. Notably, EFA spent about E1.1 million alone on air tickets for a 31-member squad when Sihlangu last visited Morocco in 2023. This was during their AFCON 2023 qualifier game against Burkina Faso.

During the last trip to north Africa, the football mother body spent about E35 000 for each person’s ticket in the 31-member delegation who travelled to Morocco via the United Arab Emirates. EFA CEO was earlier quoted confirming the figures. Morocco was where emaSwati players received a shock of their lives when they learnt of an earthquake in that foreign land while they were still there. EFA Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi ‘Rhoo’ Radebe said EFA was still waiting for an official fixture from Confederation of African Football (CAF). “EFA is waiting for an official fixture, even though we heard that they have opted for Morocco,” Radebe said. Meanwhile, the Ocean Stars Head Coach Patrick de Wilde has announced a 26-man provisional squad, which started training last week Monday.

renowned

The squad boasts of four goalkeepers and 22 local players, with internationals set to join in camp later. Abdi Salim, a seasoned defender plies his trade in the USA and he is a rival to renowned football star Lionel Messi. The former plays for Orlando City in the Major League Soccer (MLS), while target man Ali Musse is contracted to Cavalry, a Canadian team. Salim was confirmed to be joining stars in March for the clash against Eswatini. This is as per the Somali Athlete social media page. “We are training every week in Mogadishu and expect more players to join as the final squad has not been decided on yet,” Wilde said.

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