SOCCER

Smiles, mourns for Zimbabweans this past week in Eswatini

Noel Munzabwa

IT was a week characterised by joy and pain for Zimbabwean soccer coaches and players in Eswatini with mixed fortunes the order of the action both on and off the field.

While George Madira’s Piggs Peak Black Swallows and Moneni Pirates under Tarisai Changara and Zenzile Dolly Mpofu were inactive, focus fell on the rest of the coaches.

Off the field, like William Shakespeare states in Romeo and Juliet, “parting is such a sweet sorrow, we meet to part and part to meet”. Rodwell Dhlakama ended his Eswatini sojourn which saw him help MTN Premier League of Eswatini outfit Matsapha United.

While on off-season from Zimbabwe soccer, Dhlakama initially travelled to Eswatini for a holiday but the side requested him to assist the club and on Friday it was the sweet sorrow of parting, just a week after a 3-0 win over Manzini Sundowns.

The Chapungu coach was driven to Nelspruit exiting via Mananga Border Post on his way back to Zimbabwe where he is expected to join the airmen in their preseason ahead of the new season in which they hope to arrest their decline.

On the field of play, former Caps United player Steven Makatuka made his Eswatini soccer debut for Mbabane Swallows albeit to a losing start in a 0-2 SMVAF Ingwenyama Cup semi-final defeat to Young Buffaloes.

This was Swallows’ first defeat in the four-year-old tournament on the 19th match after bagging the first three editions. There was no room for Cabby Kamhapa whose registration awaits de-registration of another foreigner.

And finally Makatuka became the first Zimbabwean player in Eswatini premiership this season.

The biggest smile went to Mbabane Highlanders coach Saul Chaminuka whose lads surged into their first major cup final in seven years with a 2-0 win over Malanti Chiefs to hand the former Warriors assistant coach his second Eswatini football cup final.

Two first half goals courtesy of Vusumuzi Zungu and Thabiso Mokenkoane were good enough to see the Saul Chaminuka coached outfit to the final sparking celebrations among its followers with the younger generation of them now assured of a first ever final.

Even among the players, the younger generation will now get a feel of a first ever cup final taste.

The last time Mbabane Highlanders were in a cup final was in 2012 when they lost to the Lloyd Mutasa-coached Green Mamba 3-1 in the SwaziBank Cup with 2010 being their last cup final triumph when they hit a double.

They first clinched the SwaziBank Cup with a 1-0 win over Umbelebele Jomo Cosmos before clinching the season opening SPTC Charity Cup with a 1-0 win over Manzini Wanderers.

Chaminuka was eyeing his second major cup final in Eswatini and interestingly he will square up against the same opponents, Young Buffaloes, the side he lost to in his first cup final.

The army outfit, Young Buffaloes beat Chaminuka’s then Matsapha United outfit 2-0 in the 2017 SwaziBank Cup final — which was his first and only major domestic cup final in Eswatini.

@NoelMunzabwa