Swaziland
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BULL EYE FIGUAREIDO, BIRDS DUO

MBABANE – Giants Mbabane Highlanders are set to pounce on Mbabane Swallows stars, with their sights set on defender Sifiso Mabila and forward Felix Badenhorst.

The pair is not the only place Highlanders are looking, but also interested in signing former Cape Town All Stars winger and former Denver Sundowns, as well as the national team Sihlangu star winger Justice Figuareido. “It may be quiet in terms of media headlines from our camp but it doesn’t mean we’re not making any plans for next season. We announced even before the final match of the season that we were going to release some of our players and bring in new ones. Some have already been reported to have left while a few others are out of contracts, something we’ll resolve as soon as we resume our preseason training ahead of the Bible Society Cup we must defend.

Stronger

“We want to try and present an even stronger team next season, seeing that we dropped to position four when we had finished second in the previous season. We want to compete and win the league; we must get the best players in. We’re monitoring the situation at Swallows as we’re interested in some of the players like Felix and Sifiso Mabila,” Highlanders’ South African Managing Director (MD) Chief Ally Kgomongwe responded when asked about their transfer plans.

Speaking to him from Pretoria yesterday, he said the good thing about their targets was that their coach, Solly Luvhengo knew Figuareido and Badenhorst, while he also saw Mabila in some of the MTN Premier League games and against Highlanders. “We’ve not yet made our move on any of them but we’ve discussed them and we’ll be going all out to try and sign them then also look for the best foreign striker as we got an opening or two since we’re still monitoring Bereng’s situation;he might make a return for another season but if he doesn’t, we’ll replace him,” Kgomongwe said.

He also mentioned that while they had their eyes on the Swallows duo, their strong centre-back, Peter Dlamini looked set for an exit. “He still hasn’t pitched up or shown an interest to have his contract renewed, but we’ll see when preseason training starts. What I know is that we’re already preparing for life without him and looking for a good defender as Peter is strongly linked with Swallows,” Kgomongwe said. However, sources have also linked the defender with Green Mamba, who were reportedly interested in him even in the second transfer window but at the time, the coach, Ernest Mavuso, could not get him following that the club did not have the budget to buy him out as he was contracted to Highlanders. The latter have also tried to sign Badenhorst before and failed while with Mabila, they were beaten to his signature by the quick action of Swallows at the time with the slain Victor Gamedze still their Chairperson. Mabila had initially been bound to join Highlanders but Swallows hijacked the move and signed the player.

Loyal

With Badenhorst, the player chose to stay loyal to the club for Gamedze’s sake when he returned from TS Galaxy in 2021 and signed for Swallows when Kgomongwe had also bid for him. He signed a two-year contract in 2021. Kgomongwe also tried to sign Banele ‘Pupu’ Sikhondze two seasons ago but the midfielder ended back at Swallows.

The only player he won was striker Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa, who had been suspended from South African football for two years but the verdict was understood to ban him from football completely; Kgomongwe went out to seek clarity with the South African Football Association (SAFA) to have the verdict explained and it turned out ‘Sikhali’ could not play in South Africa only. He signed him for two years before the former Swallows marksman left last season to join MTN Premier League champions for the recently ended season, Green Mamba.

No immediate comment could be obtained from Mabila while Badenhorst would not comment. Figuareido, on the hand, said he would get direction from his unnamed agent as he still could possibly return to South Africa but would not shut the doors for offers. “I’m still going to speak to my agent, then I’ll know what’s going on,” he said when asked about the Highlanders interest. Meanwhile, Swallows are currently engulfed by uncertainty after the reported departure of the financial muscle behind the team, the club President, Archbishop Bheke Lukhele, whose resignation was reported in the final weekend of last season.