By Lwazi Dlamini
(At Mhlume Stadium)
All hail the 2022/2023 MTN League Champions – Green Mamba Football Club! Dominant ‘Correctional Services’ side held their nerves to emerge 2-1 winners in crunch MTN league clash against fellow security forces rivals, Royal Leopard and clinched the ‘Holy Grail’ of Eswatini for the third time in history.
The green and white outfit took home the E1 million first prize cheque presented by MTN Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wandile Mntshali alongside Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) Executive Committee member Sibusiso ‘Scorpion’ Nxumalo while joined by the over 200 overjoyed fans.
At nearby, Tambankulu Stadium, Young Buffaloes did the business, trashing Tambankulu Callies 3-0 but they ended with a wooden part of the spoon as Green Mamba won to claim the ultimate prize in the
local football landscape.
‘Inyoka Eluhlazana’ had previously won the league title under the tutelage of the late Francis ‘Mkhulu’ Banda in the 2010-2011 season and then clinched it again in the 2018/2019 season under the stewardship of Caleb Ngwenya.
Two points clear of nearest challengers, Young Buffaloes, going to the last game, Green Mamba calmed the nerves of their supporters as early as the 10th minute when Mxolisi Mkhontfo finished off a cross from striker Sabelo ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa.
Green Mamba could have made it 2-0 eight minutes later but ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa’s glancing header from a Mxolisi ‘Xavi’ Mkhontfo cross was flicked by Leopard goalkeeper, Ncamiso ‘Mbhonyo’ Dlamini over the
The troublesome winger, Njabulo ‘Magwegwe’ Magagula danced his way past a cluster of defenders but saw his rasping shot going narrowly wide in the 28th minute. Leopard, who were the pale shadow of the side that had put Mbabane Swallows to the sword last Sunday at Mavuso Sports Centre conceded the second goal in the 51st minute and again ‘Sikhali’ Ndzinisa came through with an assist.
‘Sikhali’ centred a gift-wrapped cross from the left flank and an unmarked Njabulo Tfwala finished off with the coolness of a cucumber to make it 2-0. Leopard did pull one back with a trade-mark Sifiso ‘Junior’ Magagula free kick two minutes after the hour-mark, which beat Green Mamba goalkeeper, Xolani Gama hands down.
Gama could not be faulted. Such was the velocity of the ball, goalkeepers to save such sweetly struck free kicks are yet to be born. Green Mamba defended with zeal to run out 2-1 winners and clinched their third league title.