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MBABANE – The fans have it - FIFA accredited Referee Thulani Sibandze it is for today’s ‘big derby’ at Mavuso Sports Centre!

However, as much as he was the leading name for fans on social media platform Facebook, it has transpired from impeccable sources that some of his colleagues are not at all pleased by the appointment. Worth mentioning is that, this is the biggest football fixture in the land and while it comes with security concerns lately, most match officials wanted to officiate it.
Investigations by this publication have shown that there are murmurs of favouritism in the way the Referees Committee (RC) makes its big game appointments, particularly the Mbabane derby. “How many times will it be Thulani in this match? Even last season he took both first and second round, then he is back again now. We all want this match to be honest as match officials, as it is where you want to grow and be a better referee for years to come.,” said one of the referees. Another told this publication that while he personally felt Sibandze was among the best in the country, he was now having tough competition from upcoming referees who could do well in this match like Thokozani Dlamini, Thembinkosi ‘Dovos’ Dlamini and Celucolo Siphepho.


“When are the other officials going to get the television exposure as we all know there’ll be SuperSport broadcasting the match and then Eswatini TV. “It’s already out that Thulani will lead as field referee at Mavuso Sports Centre and we wish him all the best. It’s not his fault, but our bosses need to give all of us a fair chance especially because not every referee has made blunders,” said another whistle man. The sources said Sibandze would lead other officials in the match and these are assistants Sambulo Simelane, Mandela Mndzebele and fourth official Wandile Mamba.


RC Chairman Sipho Kunene preferred not to talk about the issue noted by some of the referees. “Referees know where they must talk if there are issues in the office and they know where issues are to be addressed,” he said briefly. Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) Football Manager Pat Vilakati appealed to supporters to accept results as they are on matchday. “We appeal to all the supporters going into the big game to be on their best behaviour and accept results after the final whistle,” he said. Meanwhile, Swallows will occupy the main stands for sitting arrangement, while Highlanders will this time take the stand adjacent to the main, usually called ‘Etjeni’ by football fans.