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MBABANE – From a Bull, Sea Birds to a soldier.

This is the story of former Mbabane Highlanders midfield maestro Chief Colani ‘Chocco’ Sibandze, who was yesterday one of the many recruits that were part of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) during the Army Day and recruits pass out at Nokwane Army Headquarters yesterday in the Manzini Region. The Inkunz’emnyama legend who is also the appointed Chief of Mahlalini Umphakatsi quit playing in the MTN Premier League during the first round period, after joining the army recruits.  

His Majesty King Mswati III had earlier last year commissioned the army recruitment from the county’s tinkhundla centres, from June 2022. ‘Chocco’, who later joined Manzini Sea Birds after spending more than a decade at the Mbabane giants, was among other active premier league players at the time who joined the UEDF. Others are army team, Young Buffaloes and national team Sihlangu winger Fanelo ‘Order’ Mamba, Ali Matse, Siboniso ‘Gaxa’ Ngwenya, Thabo Masuku and Sibonelo Sibandze.

There was no immediate comment from any of these players, as the event lasted nearly the whole day in the presence of the king. Meanwhile, ‘Chocco’ was forced to be away from Sea Birds after his installation as chief and he soon joined the army training, which kept him out of football. Otherwise, he is one of the longest serving stars for Highlanders, before he moved to Sea Birds in the 2019/20 season. He was at some point presented with the PLE Chairman’s Award for his loyalty to Highlanders, after he did not move when the club suffered their historic relegation to the National First Division, but made it back within a season as champions.