Swaziland
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BIRDS FLY OVER AMAZULU

PIETERMARITZBURG – Mbabane Swallows still got their international sting as they stunned South Africa’s (SA) DStv Premiership side AmaZulu with a 2-0 win in a match that was played here yesterday.

They are well known throughout Africa and high ranking in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) standings among Eswatini ranked teams for their consecutive group stage finish in both the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup in 2017 and 2018. They continued with their good international feat yesterday against a weakened AmaZulu side, who only used five of their elite squad players blended with fringe players.

Goals in each half by marksman Sandile Hlatjwako were enough to steer the Caleb Ngwenya-coached team to win the Africa Day Cup, in an entertaining International friendly match which was witnessed by hundreds of supporters from Amazulu and Umkhonto kaShaka.Swallows honoured the KwaZulu-Natal Province invite early in the week and did not disappoint despite having failed to achieve much locally as they finished the MTN Premier League 2022/23 campaign on third and without CAF interclub competition qualification.

Performance

Umkhonto KaShaka ended the season a fortnight ago against Manzini Sea Birds with the same margin as their AmaZulu win. AmaZulu, on the other hand, finished the campaign with a disappointing performance, losing 4-0 to Orlando Pirates who get into the Nedbank Cup final action today against Sekhukhune United.Meanwhile, the last time Swallows and AmaZulu met in an international friendly game before yesterday was in 2019. It ended goalless that time in Eswatini, at Mayaluka Stadium in Big Bend.Back to the game, AmaZulu were on the back foot in the opening stages with Swallows pressing them for an early goal. The visitors were rewarded just under 10 minutes as Hlatjwako struck with a beautiful header from close range, after youngster Philiso Newman’s timely cross into the box. However, the Durban-based ensemble was able to contain Swallows who were seeing most of the ball, especially in their danger zone through Banele ‘Pupu’ Sikhondze and Hlatjwako until the break.

Swallows continued to push AmaZulu with some high pressing football and eventually scored yet another early goal, which proved to seal a good win for the ‘Beautiful Birds’ after the restart. This time, they were on target five minutes into the second half after a couple of crosses into the box bore no fruit. Newman was again the provider with a brilliantly weighted cross for Hlatjwako to simply tap in from close range.There was no return for AmaZulu from the 2-0 deficit as they ran out of time with their second string team failing to match Swallows. The day was also marked by performances from the celebrated SA music group Izingane Zoma, Dlala Thukzin and many others.