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EZULWINI - Lasuka lahlala!

This is one of the taglines by the league sponsor MTN Eswatini, loosely translated to mean ‘It’s game on’. Yes, the ‘Big Derby’ is here - the Capital City is divided as both sets in Mbabane Swallows and Mbabane Highlanders supporters as well as football fanatics make their predictions, put their hopes on certain stars and the Almighty.

There’s the league title, which comes with the ticket to the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League, possible CAF Confederation Cup ticket to play for here - Swallows gun for the title and CAF Champions League or the Confederation Cup. Highlanders on the other hand, are fighting for the second spot with the Confederation Cup ticket if it is not changed this season with news of the little followed and respected MoMo Cup due to its humiliating circus approach.

Interestingly, this is not the only Derby clash today as security forces sides, title-chasing Young Buffaloes, who currently occupy one of the CAF spots, meet defending champions Royal Leopard at the same time down at KaLanga Technical Centre. Leopard have no pressure as theirs is almost done, since they will not finish in the top four with four games remaining. Leopard are fifth but 10 points behind fourth-placed Highlanders. What are the odds here? Don’t forget, today’s not for the faint hearted.

Badenhorst ‘Birds’ hope against ‘Bull’

EZULWINI – In exactly seven league meetings since South African businessman and politician Chief Ally Kgomongwe took over as Mbabane Highlanders sole director, Umkhonto KaShaka (Swallows) have not enjoyed the dominance they had prior to the 2019/20 season. In today’s clash, Swallows, who are the hosts, will be hoping to avenge a first round 2-1 defeat at the same venue. The two sides have been in winning form but Swallows have been enjoying scoring goals like it was nobody’s business, they have the most goals in the league. This is one characteristic of the Swallows that was led by the late Victor ‘Maradona’ Gamedze. In came Archbishop Bheki Lukhele, who is the President of the team and he is also working towards seeing the team back in African soccer.

The road to the interclub competitions passes through their traditional rivals, Highlanders, who played the Confederation Cup last season as runners-up to Leopard. Four points stand between third-placed Swallows and Highlanders with four matches to play. Swallows are also five points shy of leaders Green Mamba, who play Moneni Pirates in a tricky fixture today and also three behind second-placed Buffaloes. So, winning but losing is everything for Tinyoni or Umkhonto KaShaka, Ukhona Ozonethwa their loyals always say. On the other hand, Magebhula as Inkunz’emnyama or Highlanders are also fondly known will be in no compromising mood.

Fact is, these two sides and their leadership are in bed under the Simunye banner but as always, that has not tampered with the significance of this tie set for live broadcast locally and highlights views by the world through SuperSport pay-per-view channel. It is anticipated that more supporters than in the first round will go to the stadium given what’s at stake, the teams’ current form and litany of game changers and experience they both have.

This is the game that separates families, have people ditch their meal and partners among other post reactions. Swallows won 6-0 last Saturday against a struggling and relegation threatened Tambankulu Callies, while Highlanders edged a stubborn Manzini Sea Birds 2-1. In the last six league meetings since the 2019/20 season (no second round in 2019/20 due to COVID-19) Highlanders have looked in control and unfortunate not to get the full points at least in one instance when a clear Josef Lekata goal was disallowed at a packed Somhlolo National Stadium - how unfortunate, this game is at the tiny arena than the country’s under revamp soccer Mecca.

Swallows have recorded a 2-1 win against Kgomongwe’s troops and that was when the latter had declared he would never lose to Swallows. He blamed it on his late arrival at the stadium on the day but here’s another chance, who will have the last laugh today, him or Lukhele? Kgomongwe has enjoyed two wins already. It’s all happening at 3pm, don’t miss out the action. Highlanders are looking to close the four-point gap between them and Swallows as they push for the second spot.

It’s ‘kill or be killed’ for Buffaloes

EZULWINI – Yet another make or break derby clash between the two security forces teams. Army side Young Buffaloes cannot afford any slip-up at this stage if the title glory is something they can manage for the second time in their elite history. The team’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sandile Gwebu declared on Friday that they were off to Africa, come rain or sunshine. However, will it be as champions or runners-up? Either way, they must get the maximum points today against police outfit Royal Leopard or stand to miss out on everything. The gap between them and Swallows is just three points, while leaders Green Mamba are two points ahead of the army side. Buffaloes are unbeaten since last season’s second round, while the same cannot be said for Leopard, who by their standards underperformed.


They probably suffered from fatigue having been in the CAF competitions, first the Champions League then dropped to the Confederation Cup, which meant more matches and travelling than their domestic rivals, it happens as witnessed with Liverpool in England after coming about two matches short of a quadruple last season but now on position eight. Sparks are set to fly here as these two, like Swallows and Highlanders, have more than just the points at stake but the bragging rights too. They all have quality players, who dominate the senior national team Sihlangu and today all the cream will be facing each other. They come to the derby with Buffaloes having won 2-1 against Tambuti, while Leopard were held by Manzini Wanderers to a goalless draw.