Swaziland
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BULLISH ’LANDERS OUTCLASS ‘WESLIANS’

MANZINI – Three unanswered goals helped Mbabane Highlanders to stretch their unbeaten run against Manzini Wanderers to seven games, after the final game of the season here yesterday.

The sound of Referee Celumusa Siphepho’s final whistle for the last time this season at Mavuso Sports Centre saw Highlanders completing an MTN Premier League season double against the stuttering giants, who lost 0-2 in the reverse fixture. Wanderers who last prevailed in this fixture back on May 14, 2019 with a 2-1 win were no match for their illustrious opponents  and struggled in the last line of defence in the absence of first-choice Sitali Nyambe.

glaring

Replacement Bongiswa ‘Romario’ Dlamini had glaring frailties between the sticks. It took the opening 10 minutes for the home team to get off the mark, as the impressive Philani Mkhonto peeled off the defence to pull a rabbit out of the hat. He beat the goalkeeper with a low stinging shot from the edge of the box. It was one-way traffic until after the half-hour when Wanderers eventually regrouped, as they started finding pockets of space in the Highlanders defence. However, against the run of play Highlanders were on Wanderers’ box again. ‘Romario’ spilled a Philani effort onto Siyabonga Mkhonto’s path. The latter fired home the rebound from close range to ensure his team took the two-goal advantage to the break. On top of the goal setback, Wanderers further survived a scare as defender Djo Manix Etwe was unconscious after the goal, after suffering what looked like a seizure. He eventually recovered after medical attention.

As rain poured down on resumption of play, Wanderers who made four substitutions to sacrifice players who included the ineffective Bonginkhosi ‘Gudas’ Dlamini, also saw their chances of  a comeback being washed away. It was Philani who put the game beyond the maroon and white outfit’s reach, as he was at the end of Siyabonga’s cross to fire home with aplomb from close range in the 52nd minute. The tempo of the game had greatly dipped towards the end but it did not matter for Highlanders, as they had completed the job and burst Wanderers’ bubble who were from a 2-0 derby win over Moneni Pirates. At the end, Highlanders cemented the fourth spot, but missed out on a podium finish after rivals Mbabane Swallows beat Manzini Sea Birds 2-0. For Wanderers, they have a lot to think about after a disastrous season that saw them relegated to the 10th spot in a 14-team league.