Mbabane: Mlungisi ‘Madzala’ Ngubane remains the only player to captain both bitter-sworn rivals Mbabane Swallows and Mbabane Highlanders.
Playing as a sweeper, ‘Madzala’ arrived in the flash and lights of Mbabane from Tambankulu Callies to join Swallows, kick-starting what went on to be an illustrious footballing career. In his second season with Swallows, he was already a regular in the senior national team Sihlangu where he also went on to captain the team.
Now, underline this, he is the only team captain in our lifetime to receive the Centenary Mbabane Mayoral Cup after leading Swallows to a victory over arch rivals Highlanders at the Prince of Wales Ground, the only game outside the Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) schedule these two rivals can ever meet in.
In a tell-it-all interview with Independent News Sports, ‘Madzala’ says having played with many great players he still feels former Eswatini international Sibusiso ‘Spoko’ Dlamini never reached his full potential. “Spoko was something else, out of this world and I want to believe he was never given enough playing opportunities in South Africa for his talent. But because he was a foreigner, you can always anticipate such things,” Madzala says.
He reckons, Sihlangu’s much celebrated 2-0 away win in Zimbabwe back in 2004 remains his best moment in football because he was the captain on the day under the tutelage of dearly departed Dumisa ‘Dodge’ Mahlalela. Siza ‘King Pele’ Dlamini and ‘Spoko’ were on target for Sihlangu in a blazing hot Sunday afternoon in Harare.
‘Madzala’ was already a legend at Swallows but on the later stages of his career he crossed the Rubicon to join rivals Highlanders, a move that required him to be strong mentally as he had to take a lot of insults. He insists some Highlanders people did not trust his judgement and was considered a spy while those at Swallows could not take the fact that he joined their rivals.
‘Madzala’ is a top professional and to prove that, he was also handed the captain’s armband at Highlanders where he retired from the game. In a star-studded ultimate XI from former teammates, he names Sipho ‘Shilton’ Dube in goal with him pairing his role model Jerry ‘Mbazo’ Gamedze in central defence. On the fullback positions, he goes for Sipho ‘City’ Sibandze on the right and Menzi Gamedze on the left.
‘Madzala’ goes on to name Joe Simelane in midfield ahead of celebrated Sihlangu legend Mxolisi ‘Stopper’ Mthethwa in a central midfield pairing with Manqoba ‘Dunga Kunene.
On the right wing he names Darren ‘Dazza’ Christie with Talos Masichane on the left while going for frontline partnership of Siza ‘King Pele’ Dlamini and Civil Matsebula. “Mbazo (Gamedze) was the best player I played with because he was my role model. I looked up to him and then I found myself sharing with him the same hotel room while on Sihlangu duty. It was unbelievable but I never let him know he was my favourite player.”
‘Madzala’ grew up supporting Manzini Wanderers and says, “It was always a motivation playing against them and as always, I would be on top of my game in our matches”. Pity, despite playing for both Swallows and Highlanders, he never donned the famed maroon and white of his childhood team.
He goes on to name Swallows captain Tony Tsabedze as his favourite player from the current crop of players. “To me talent has to go with discipline hence Tony Tsabedze is my best player currently. Despite all his achievements, he remains level headed, disciplined and humbled. Other premier league players and upcoming stars can use Tony as a reference in their careers if they are to reach the top level and achieve great things,” he warns.
Madzala is currently Life Claims Officer at Eswatini Royal Insurance Corporation.