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MANZINI – A ‘trigger happy’ Royal Leopard made light work of Mbabane Swallows to force them out of the MTN Premier League title race.

After yesterday’s 4-2 win in a feisty and fast-flowing clash at Mavuso Sports Centre, Swallows have not only been eliminated in the title race, but the second spot is no longer within their reach. This means they can no longer finish second and qualify to play in the CAF Confederation Cup. A 1-all draw by Young Buffaloes at Madlenya yesterday dashed all their hopes of continental football. Visibly enraged Swallows fans were baying for Head Coach Caleb Ngwenya’s blood, after Referee Celumusa Siphepho’s final whistle, after they watched in disbelief their favourite side torn into shreds by a police side that had a flawless game plan. All Edwin Matsebula’s men did was to attack in blistering pace and forced the slow Swallows centre backs to crumble under tremendous pressure.

It was Lungelo Tsabedze who set the tone for a flawless outing for the blue and white ensemble. He peeled off the defence after a swift attack to beat goalkeeper Sandanezwe Mathabela with a hard shot from close range in the 13th minute. This was barely minutes after leading goalscorer Felix Badenhorst saw his header cleared from the goal line by Simanga Masangane.
Swallows noticeably threw the rusty Xolani ‘Papi Sikhondze into the deep end. They were sluggish and found themselves on the back foot. Junior Andy Magagula doubled the advantage with an audacious half volley from close range after Swallows were caught napping in the 25th minute. Leopard’s hundreds of supporters, who were fetched from the Police Academy to cheer on the team, roared in sheer ecstasy as the team took full command of the match.   


From a solo effort, Swallows pulled one back through Sizolethu ‘Nunu’ Shabalala a minute later. He left fly a rocket from the edge of the box which shaved the cross bar on its way in.
The tempo remained excessively high while tackles flew in on the rain-soaked turf. Junior restored his team’s two-goal advantage in a dramatic fashion. His free kick from outside the box slightly deflected on Newman Philiso to end on a high note a half that proved to be a  goal fest. On resumption of play, Swallows had tried to bring stability by bringing the likes of Mutanda Bashir and grafter Kabia Mohammed. It did little to neutralise the opponents who kept their foot on the accelerator. After the hour mark, the visitors had thrown everything into attack, with veteran winger Wonder ‘Samba Jive’ Nhleko also called in a bid to turn the game on its head.  Instead it was the police side that put the game beyond Swallows’ reach after ‘super-sub’ Sandziso Tsabedze unleashed a powerful cross from the right, which was buried in by Leopard import Thabiso Mokenkoane three minutes from time. Swallows fans who are usually colourful had their flags literally flying at half-mast in response to what can be dubbed a massacre.


‘Samba Jive’, who dusted himself off to convert a spot kick deep into stoppage time after he was floored by Ntokozo Gamedze did little to console their visibly disappointed loyalists. It was a goal that only halved the deficit, as the damage had already been done. On his way to the tunnel, Coach Ngwenya was hit by a small container from a fan and a commotion ensued, as marshals tried to squeeze the fan to the tunnel to ensure he ‘answered on the charges.’ It did not end there, as a section of the fans camped behind the exit and demanded to have an audience with Ngwenya, who had to be whisked to safety by security personnel. At the end, the title bid became a closed chapter for Swallows, with leaders Green Mamba who are three points ahead of closest challengers Young Buffaloes the remaining contenders for this weekend’s decisive fixtures against Leopard and Tambankulu Callies, in that order.