JUST a fortnight ago, it all seemed confirmed for Mbabane Swallows Zimbabwe duo of Cabby Kamhapa and Stephen Makatuka ahead of the 2019/20 MTN Premier League of Eswatini but just a day or two were good enough to change all dimensions.
It seemed all clear for the duo to form part of the maximum five foreign nationals quota but the arrival of two South African nationals Vusumuzi Zungu and Sphamandla Dlamini in the Birds’ nest on Monday meant the seven foreign internationals would have to compete for the five slots.
With five internationals namely Kamhapa, Makatuka, Paito Dube, Glody Lilepo and Kingu Pemba already in the nest, Swallows added free agents Zungu and Dlamini this week as they sought to add grit to their performance whose bar fell last season.
From grace both national and international, Swallows fell, ending without the big three titles for the first time in seven seasons, something a bit alien to this beautifully decorated outfit once home to Zimbabweans Stanford Ncube, Talent Maphosa and Ephraim Mazarura among others.
However, Kamhapa is not moved by the development stating he will stand the competition heat.
“You don’t go into the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat, I am in this team to compete and compete I will. Competition is good for me, it’s good for the team. I am not worried much about what happens thereafter,” said Kamhapa.
Makatuka, who returned from Zimbabwe where he had rushed to attend to a funeral in Hwange, could not be reached for comment but it remains to be seen which two players would be loaned out or released from their contracts before the season begins.
The former Caps United players were January transfer window period additions and there were fears the team’s fall from grace during the 2018/19 season would force a great reshuffle but alas, there is still faith in the players despite off-field administrative wars.
While Makatuka enjoyed generous play time in all games since arrival, Kamhapa was relegated to cameo appearances and he will definitely need to raise the performance bar, not only to command play time but break a sweat to make it into the starting line-up.
The Eswatini soccer season earnestly kicked off a fortnight ago with the season opening Eswatini Posts and Telecommunications Corporation Charity Shield play-offs battle featuring four teams — Matsapha United, Malanti Chiefs, Royal Leopards and Sea Birds with the winner, Royal Leopards joining the big three Mbabane Highlanders, Mbabane Swallows and Manzini Wanderers in the finals proper set for 11 August. The league will then run from end of August.