Mbabane: History, they always say is the best teacher and so are statistics.
But then, by their very nature- statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital. A simple secondary school explanation of history is that it is the study of the past. For arguments’ sake, the past cannot determine one’s future in life but it clearly outlines where one comes from.
Correctional Services side Green Mamba has never lost a cup final in history. Since easily brushing aside Denver Sundowns in one of the most one sided finals in history in the final of the 2004 Eswatini Bank Cup, a game they won 5-1, the Correctional Services side has gone on to win all four of their other final appearances.
The last time the two sides clashed in a final was in 2012 in the Eswatini Bank where Green Mamba beat Highlanders 3-1 in front of His Majesty King Mswati III and a strong 15 000 plus crowd.
Fast forward a decade, the two teams meet again in another final, this time in the form of the richly sponsored Ingwenyama Cup. It is now history that Green Mamba walked away with the Eswatini Bank Cup after taking a 3-0 first half lead. By the time coach Thabo ‘Koki’ Vilakati introduced his trump card Hloniphani Ndebele at the interval, the damage was already done but the Zimbabwean pulled a consolation goal for the capital city giants as the game ended 3-1 in favour of the Correctional Services side.
Vilakati was hugely criticised for benching his key player Ndebele, events that led to his exit at Highlanders but the ‘prodigal son’ is back and has transported his boyhood Highlanders side to another Ingwenyama Cup final appearance after embarrassingly losing last year’s edition 1-4 to tough-as-teak Young Buffaloes.
March 8 saw Highlanders and Green Mamba do battle again with a mouthwatering 1.4 million SZL at stake, which at the last blow of the whistle was taken by the latter. In its short-as-sneeze but already rich five-year history, the Ingwenyama Cup knows only two winners- Mbabane Swallows who won it for an unprecedented three times on the trot and Young Buffaloes who outfoxed the same Highlanders in a one-sided final last year.
The final served as Green Mamba coach Caleb Ngwenya’s first final appearance while Vilakati on the hand sought a season double after leading the capital city giants to Eswatini Telecom Cup glory in the beginning of the season.
Since eliminating arch and bitter rivals Mbabane Swallows courtesy of South Africa-born striker Kenneth Moloto strike in the last 16, Highlanders won with championship scores in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
A Sabelo ‘Sawa’ Gamedze’s solitary goal brushed aside First Division outfit Madlenya in the last eight before the left back turned attacker netted a double in the last four against tournament surprise package Tambankulu Callies to earn the ‘Black Bull’ a place in the final.
From the last 16, on the other hand, Green Mamba have netted and impressive eight goals, equating to 2.6 goals per match. One thing is for sure, the 2019/20 Ingwenyama Cup final will witness goals and we cannot wait. ‘Buckle Up’, it is game on.
GREEN MAMBA RECORD IN FINALS
2004 Green Mamba 5-1 Denver Sundowns (EswatiniBank Cup)
2006 Green Mamba 1-0 Mbabane Swallows (Trade Fair Cup)
2011 Green Mamba 2-1 Mbabane Swallows (FixedFone Cup)
2012 Green mamba 3-1 Mbabane Highlanders (EswatiniBank Cup)
2014 Green Mamba 2-1 Mbabane Swallows (Castle Premier Challenge)
ROAD TO INGWENYAMA CUP FINAL
Green Mamba 4 (Siphelele Dladla OG 63rd, Musa Dlamini 65th, Solomon Oladele 71st, 72nd) – Manzini Sea Birds 0
Green Mamba 1 (Njabulo Tfwala 59th) – Young Buffaloes 0
Moneni Pirates 1 (Njabulo Shongwe 14th) – Green Mamba 2 (Khetho Mkhontfo 68th, Linda Nkambule 72nd)
Mbabane Swallows 0 – Mbabane Highlanders 1 (Kenneth Moloto 43rd)
Mbabane Highlanders 1 (Sabelo ‘Sawa’ Gamedze 56th) – Madlenya 0
Mbabane Highlanders 2 (Sabelo ‘Sawa’ Gamedze 57th, 88th) – Tambankulu Callies 0
HISTORY OF INGWEYAMA CUP WINNERS
2015/16 Mbabane Swallows
2016/17 Mbabane Swallows
2017/18 Mbabane Swallows
2018/19 Young Buffaloes 2019/20 Green Mamba
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