ON the 19th of February 2012, Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum made the Total Caf Champions League debut on Eswatini soil with a date against the then Lloyd Mutasa-coached Green Mamba in a match played at Somhlolo National Stadium in Lobamba.
Both sides were on their debut on the African Football safari and the Zimbabweans triumphed 4-2 in the preliminary round.
The Eswatini outfit suffered a 2-4 defeat in the first leg played at Somhlolo National Stadium on the 19th of February 2012 in which Welile Maseko and Mcebo Mdluli were on target which was not enough to halt FC Platinum Donald Ngoma brace, Allan Gahadzikwa and Ali Sadiki’s solitary contributions.
A big party erupted at FC Platinum temporary home at the plush Lugogo Hotel which attracted officials from the Eswatini side and the then Sports Minister, Hlobsile Ndlovu whose bill ran into several thousands rands even though the match may have been over but the tie was not.
The tie moved to Zimbabwe soil somewhere in the Midlands Province.
The second leg at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane proved merely academic as the then Rahman Gumbo-coached Zimbabwe emissaries cruised to a 4-0 drubbing of the then Lloyd Mutasa-coached side courtesy of Charles Sibanda (brace), Joel Ngodzo and Gahadzikwa goals on the 3rd of March 2012.
And our own son, Mutasa faced a lot of flak from the 2-8 aggregate defeat.
In a column titled “I smell a rat in Mamba’s bashing in Zimbabwe!” the author launched lyrical missiles on hapless and defenceless Mutasa and some his then Zimbabwe-born players.
“Instead we were told bringing in a Zimbabwean coach who knows the opposition will work out like a charm. I knew it was just a smokescreen — in fact an easy way of getting rid of ‘Mkhulu’ Banda. I cannot question Mutasa’s coaching credentials but if the 4-0 bashing away in Zimbabwe is anything to go by, Green Mamba could have done better with coach, Francis Banda in charge.
“The defeat in Zimbabwe, as our man on the ground, Malindi Dlamini reported, did not come as a surprise. Goalkeeper, Nyaungwa Zondai had a nightmare of a game, shipping in goals like a croupier raking in chips at a casino. He is Zimbabwean by birth. Our reporter gave him a 1/10 rating.
“Midfielder Stanford Ncube also got a 1/10 rating and had a game whose video he would not take for his collection. He is from Robert Mugabe’s land — no matter how some teams want us to believe he is now a naturalised Swazi. The coach who was shouting on the terraces, Lloyd Mutasa is also Zimbabwean.
“Lest I am accused of being xenophobic, let me end here. Conspiracy theories aside, Green Mamba’s fate was sealed the moment the tinkering Management Committee decided to fix their machinery when it was not broken . . .” read part of the column.
Eight years after, we can probably dream of a “rematch” to prove if FC Platinum ‘in their fluke win’ had flattered only to deceive after Green Mamba joined the Zimbabweans into the next edition of the Total Caf Champions League making the “rematch” one of the possible fixtures.
The Correctional Services outfit Green Mamba have qualified for the 2019 /20 Total Caf Champions League edition after clinching the 2018 /19 MTN Premier League of Eswatini in one of the most fiercely competitive runs which stretched to the season’s final whistle.
It needed a superior goal difference for the Caleb Ngwenya-coached side to peel off from Police side Royal Leopards after both teams had dragged the race to the curtain downing round of matches winning their respective ties, both finishing on 58 points.
Leopards had looked set to bag it after leading army side, Young Buffaloes for the better part of the afternoon in a match they won 2-0 at Mavuso Sports Centre in Manzini but an 80th minute Gomezani Gondwe strike diverted the title to Green Mamba with a 1-0 win over Mbabane Highlanders in a simultaneous kick-off at Somhlolo National Stadium in Lobamba.
At the end of it all, a superior goal difference of two between Green Mamba and Royal Leopards was good enough to hand Ngwenya his first ever elite trophy in his coaching career. Green Mamba’s second ever league title after the 2010 /11 one, booked them into only their second Total Caf Champions League dance after 2012 in which they were knocked out at the preliminary stage 2-8 on aggregate by Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum.