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GET FOREIGN COACH FOR SIHLANGU – ‘DIGGER’

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MBABANE - With the national team Sihlangu currently without a coach, former Manager Josiah ‘Digger’ Dlamini is supporting the idea of appointing a foreign mentor.


The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) is expected to announce a decision on the new head coach this week, following the expiration of the technical team’s contracts months ago. The tenure of former Young Buffaloes Coach Dominic Kunene, along with his assistants Sifiso ‘Nuro’ Ntibane and Green Mamba’s Ernest Mavuso expired at the end of March. However, ‘Digger’ believes that the national team requires a foreign coach.
He argues that the country’s football level is still semi-professional, hence the need for a coach with a higher level of expertise.

Knowledge

“We need a foreign coach whose knowledge of the game is superior to ours, as we will be competing against professional opponents.  “I speak from experience when I say that our performance level gradually improved after 2012 when we hired a foreign coach,” Dlamini said. During this period, the nation’s pride was under the guidance of Belgium’s Valeri Billen. Dlamini noted that the coach was solely tasked with national team’s duties and strived to deliver at his full potential. “We need a coach who will work exclusively with the national team, day in and day out.

“Billen would go the extra mile by visiting club training sessions to assess players, as well as their behaviour and respect for their careers,” he added.
The last foreign coach to lead Sihlangu was Kostadin Papic, who was succeeded by Kunene in 2020. Dlamini also mentioned that the coach was able to implement programmes that eventually improved the team’s performance. He cited the example of the two-day weekly training sessions for the national team. He said it needed to be revived after being grounded.

Enhance

“We can’t expect better performance if we still train as a national team for only two weeks before games. “We need to enhance the standard of our training and also organise friendlies with countries whose rankings are above us,” he further added. Dlamini recalled the 2013 10-0 defeat by Egypt, but was thankful that the country learned a lot and improved from those mistakes. He attributed the gradual improvement in performance thereafter to this game.

Three years later, Eswatini managed to secure a bronze medal during the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) championships and achieved its highest-ever FIFA ranking of 88. Eswatini is expected to participate in the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers next month as it awaits the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) group stages Qualifiers draw.

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