MBABANE – It will be a thrilling Last 16 stage of the EswatiniBank Cup when soccer heavyweights Manzini Wanderers take on Mbabane Highlanders on Sunday.
The mouth-watering clash will be played on Sunday at Somhlolo National Stadium, kick-off 4pm in a double header that will also feature Pigg’s Peak Black Swallows against Moneni Pirates.
This is after the Last 16 draw of the 17th edition which was conducted at the EswatiniBank auditorium on Tuesday morning and as rightly predicted by this publication, the unseeded ‘Weslians’ are in a tough draw.
It will be a crackerjack contest when the two-time finalists in Wanderers take on on-form Highlanders who have already won this knockout competition in 2009 and 2010.
Wanderers were runners-up in 2009 (losing 0-2 to Highlanders on April 5) and then in 2015 losing with the same scoreline to Moneni Pirates and then again in 2018, losing 2-1 on May 6, 2018 to reigning champions Young Buffaloes during the Uyayfuna na? finals edition.
Both teams have good history in as far as the CAF Confederation Cup ticket carrying knockout tournament is concerned as they were also semi-finalists of the 2017 edition.
The capital giants suffered a narrow 0-1 defeat to eventual champions Buffaloes while Wanderers lost 0-2 to runners-up then Matsapha United in the semi-finals of the 2017 edition.
Meanwhile, 2006, 2013 and 2016 champions Mbabane Swallows have a tricky fixture against unpredictable Manzini Sea Birds who have been blowing hot and cold this season.
Holders Young Buffaloes meet National First Division table toppers Tambankulu Callies after passing the first Tinyosi test in their new campaign to defend the title.
Police outfit Royal Leopard who recorded a historic 12-0 win against Nsingizini Hotspurs in the Last 32 will take on second tier side Madlenya who have also proven a tricky side and booted out Vovovo in the preliminary stage.
Green Mamba faces Illovo while Denver Sundown and Malanti Chiefs will also face-off as well as Milling Hot Spurs playing Tambuti.
Wanderers’ General Manager Berger Nxumalo said they were used to playing against Highlanders.
“We will rise to the occasion and we promise our supporters and all those who will be present during the game that they will see what Manzini Wanderers is made off,” he said.
Meanwhile, Highlanders’ Public Relations Officer (PRO) Paul ‘Magidza’ Masilela boldly declared that they were going back to play at the inter-club continental tournament.
“It’s been a while having played in Africa, we are competing in another knockout tournament but we want this one too. We are sorry to Wanderers that this is the end of their road in this competition,” said the PRO.
He also urged teams to familiarise themselves with the tournament rules as per the request of the organising committee.
Swallows’ General Manager Sandile ‘Beyond 2000’ Zwane said Sea Birds had always been problematic for them, however, he said this tournament will give them the ticket to Africa and they must therefore go past the opposition.
“We will work hard to progress and fix our challenges,” he said. Sea Birds’ London Dlamini said they were also determined to get past the Last 16.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS IN ESWATINIBANK CUP:
2009 Cup final:
Wanderers 0 Highlanders 2
EswatiniBank Cup Last 16 fixtures:
Illovo vs Green Mamba 2pm
Madlenya vs Royal Leopard 4pm
Tambankulu Callies vs Young Buffaloes 3pm
Mavuso Sports Centre
Milling Hot Spurs vs Tambuti 3pm
Somhlolo National Stadium
Malanti Chiefs vs Denver Sundowns 2pm
Manzini Sea Birds vs Mbabane Swallows 4pm
Somhlolo National Stadium
P/P Black Swallows vs Moneni Pirates 2pm
Manzini Wanderers vs Mbabane Highlanders 4pm