In its 12 years of existence, this will not only be the first SwaziBank Cup final between Moneni Pirates and Manzini Wanderers but also the first for the former – their best had been a quarter-final finish. And this Sunday, April 12 at the Somhlolo National Stadium, history may be rewritten should Pirates win it as this will be their first while for Wanderers it will mean more than just winning the tournament itself but their first silverware in over 10 years now. So there is a lot at stake here for both sides. This final will be preceded by yet another final, call it final before the final if you want but the SwaziBank Cup U20 Knockout, as the slogan goes, ngiyo ngiyo between Green Mamba and Mbabane Swallows who are favourites to snatch it. There is E800 000 at stake for the champions between Pirates and Wanderers so it’s all roads to Somhlolo on Sunday, gates open early in the morning. Below we preview the match;
Who has better chances and why?
As much as it is hard for me to call this youthful but exciting ‘Sea Robbers’ side as they are also called by their faithful underdogs in this hub derby clash, they still are given the big team status their opponents have. But then again, I would not strangle anyone who said Wanderers were the underdogs for many reasons, mine among others being the very tough rivals Pirates played to reach the final. If such a youthful and little experienced side can play some brilliant football and defeat giants Green Mamba and then Mbabane Highlanders, all teams who had beaten them thoroughly since last season, then they have a realistic chance to snatch it.
A look at the Pirates players:
Pirates just have talent at their helm which makes it easy for the technical bench headed by Zambian coach Happy ‘Messiah’ Simfukwe in partnership with the brilliant strategist in Zenzele ‘Ace’ Dlamini. The pair knows they can rely on their stars to perform on the day especially against their city rivals. It is players like in form midfielder Bongani Ndzimandze, central defenders Menzi ‘Magawugawu’ Simelane, Mncedisi Dlamini, strikers Mfanfakile ‘Fash’ Ndzimandze, Ndumiso ‘Karas’ Dlamini and the stylish Cedric Gulwa who will be the men to watch as they are potential match winners.
Pirates’ road to the final:
Last 32 – Beat Black Mashuba 4-0 in regular time.
Last 16 – Beat Tambuti 2-1 in regular time.
Quarters – Beat Green Mamba 2-0 in regular time.
Semis – Beat Mbabane Highlanders 4-2 after extra time.
Final – To play Wanderers this Sunday.
The argument one hears outside is that the ‘Weslians’ have only had one real tough challenge in the tournament which is against Manzini Sundowns. Well perhaps that could be right when you speak of meeting elite rivals but Midas Mbabane City was also no walkover for me despite being in the First Division – they beat Royal Leopard and always were tough nut against Wanderers before relegation. That said, they now meet their second elite rivals and it’s in the final. If they prepare as well as they did for Sundowns in the semis, then I believe LiWeseli as they are fondly known also can win it and bring home its first silverware in 10 years. Against the youthful Pirates, Wanderers have the experience at its abundance so it will be a case of the youth’s good football against experience.
A look at the Wanderers players:
I have already mentioned they boast experienced stars in the likes of goalkeeper Sandile ‘Nkomishi’ Ginindza, Gcina ‘Kwere’ Mazibuko at the back, Lwazi ‘Shana’ Maziya, Sandile ‘Theo’ Motsa, Tawanda Chikuku in midfield then upfront there is Sidumo Shongwe, the man the Weslian fans can look up to as he has the nerve to rise in such big occasions and the troublesome Sihle Ndaba on the left flank who could prove a big menace to the Pirates’ defence and the man to plot their downfall and ensure it is Wanderers’ Cup.
Wanderers’ road to the final:
Last 32 – Beat Vovovo 2-0 in regular time.
Last 16 – Beat Ubombo Flyers 4-2 in regular time.
Quarters – Beat Midas City 2-1.
Semis – Beat Manzini Sundowns after a penalty shootout.
Final – to play Pirates this Sunday.