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LEOPARD CLASH WITH ‘BIRDS’

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It has been over three months since Castle Lager marked their official return to domestic football with a sponsorship launch of E500 000 for the Castle Premier Challenge Cup Top 8 Knockout tournament. Eight teams that finished in the top eight on the MTN Premier League log standings last season will do battle here.

The trophy tour, this time around, will act as a prelude to the start of the quarter-finals on Saturday and Sunday.
Green Mamba take on Manzini Sundowns at 2pm before Royal Leopard and Mbabane Swallows at 4pm at Somhlolo National Stadium on Saturday. On Sunday, Moneni Pirates will take on Young Buffaloes at 1pm before Manzini Wanderers clash with Malanti Chiefs at 3pm. Below; we focus on the trophy tour briefly and some of the games in the winner-takes-all tournament. Enjoy the read;

The Trophy Tour


This is one event used by the sponsors, Swaziland Beverages, to market the tournament and the Castle beer brand. It is basically a trophy parade which will hit the small town of Nhlangano before members of the public (fans) get a chance to win fabulous prizes being the Castle merchandise like T-shirts, bottle openers, hats and cooler bags among other items and further enjoy the Castle Draught availed by the sponsor free of charge. It is also an opportunity for the public to meet the soccer players in particular the eight teams’ captains and further enjoy a fun-filled day as there will be entertainment by dance and live music groups. Remember – this is a winner-takes-all tournament not only for the clubs but also for the fans as one stands to win a trip to Spain for one Barcelona FC match, just follow the Castle promotion at your nearest outlet. The eight teams are Manzini Wanderers, Malanti Chiefs, Mbabane Swallows, Young Buffaloes, Green Mamba, Royal Leopard, Manzini Sundowns and Malanti Chiefs.

The Games


Fans will be treated to a do or die double-header this Sunday as the four clubs fight it out in the knockout tournament. Find out who stands a chance to win and why;


Saturday


Gr. Mamba vs Mnz. Sundowns 2pm
Will it be doomsday for Manzini Sundowns? Facing the tough-as-a-teak Green Mamba in their current form could spell doom for the Kappa ensemble especially because the Correctional Services are armed with everything in terms of player quality. Their game is about speed and possession football which they used when they destroyed a hapless Midas City over the weekend. If Sundowns come with the same defence they used against Swallows, then the venomous Green Mamba’s speedy striking force will make a meal out of them and advance to the semi-finals of the winner-takes-all tournament.

Players to watch:


Mcebo Mdluli (Green Mamba): If this young midfielder keeps up the form he showed against Midas City, then Sundowns must brace them,selves for a torrid afternoon in the midfield battle where games are won. He thrives so well as he makes everything look so simple as if he was on his own turf. He was the master behind City’s 4-0 humiliation as he showed skill and composure blended with all the confidence a coach may require from a player.


Solomon Oladele (Green Mamba): What a gem! The striker made an immediate impact in the Gcina ‘Magiyane’ Dlamini-coached side scoring a deserved brace and further contributing to Njabulo Tfwala’s goal with an assist. He is well built, physically strong and brilliant upfront.
Phinda Dlamini (Manzini Sundowns): The tall striker played for his team against Mbabane Swallows over the weekend but was a pale shadow of himself probably because he had not played football in a long time due to academic reasons. However, he still poses a threat to any opposition and cannot be written off.


Banele ‘Pupu’ Sikhondze (Manzini Sundowns): He is by far the only player who oozed confidence in the Sundowns team that lost 3-0 to Swallows, including seasoned midfielder Reagan Steenkamp. He has the talent and skill to help Sundowns but may also struggle against a solid Green Mamba in every department otherwise he is one to watch.


R. Leopard vs Mb. Swallows 4pm


The two finally meet after somehow avoiding each other in the PLS/Swazi Telecom Trade Fair Cup. It will be interesting how they fare as they are all in good shape even though Swallows have not yet hit their best looking at the material at their disposal but in this game, sparks are set to fly.

Players to watch:


Mduduzi ‘Juries’ Gama (Left winger); The pint-sized winger has been an inspiration of late to the Leopard side even if coming from the bench – he just knows his football without any doubt. If the form he showed against Moneni Pirates is anything to go by, then he is set to be trouble for the Swallows defence with his dangerous crosses into the area.
Mathokoza ‘Tokyo’ Thwala (Right winger): He is one confident and skilful player in the Leopard team even though he struggled in the Pirates game only to come to life in the second half where he started showing his talent and full potential. He can be very tricky and dangerous.
Wonder ‘Samba Jive’ Nhleko (Attacking midfielder): The ex-Malanti Chiefs star is back home at Swallows hence it was no trouble for him to settle in as fast as he could. He already boasts a brace which he scored against Manzini Sundowns in the league and will certainly look to do more damage here.


Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze (Left winger): His combination with ‘Samba Jive’ may prove too much for Leopard who over the weekend took free football lessons from Moneni Pirates despite grinding out a point as the game ended 1-all. Tsabedze is always impressive and willing as he goes all out to help his side win games. He thrives on cutting past defenders and accuracy at goal.
The full fixture:


Saturday


Somhlolo National Stadium
Green Mamba vs Manzini Sundowns 2pm
Leopard vs Swallows 4pm


Sunday


Somhlolo National Stadium
Moneni Pirates vs Young Buffaloes 1pm
Wanderers vs Malanti Chiefs 3pm

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