Swaziland v Malawi, Sunday 6th September 2015, 3pm

1-P1250885

After deciding to not go any further north into Mozambique than Inhambane, a few nights in Swaziland looked like a good idea. We stayed in the Ezulweni Valley which is between the main towns of Mbabane and Manzini.

Uzulweni is ideal for doing some walking as there are a few marked routes in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. There’s nothing with big teeth in Mlilwane, apart I suppose, from crocodiles, but they seem scared of humans so I don’t really count them.

1-P1250867

There’s plenty of less dangerous stuff though and we got up close to impala and warthogs. We also found a bug that was easily noticeable whilst on the ground but had it been sat in the right coloured tree would have been very difficult to see.

1-P1250774

A couple of days before the game we hiked up to the 1,020m Nyonyane Peak. I don’t think a thousand metres is all that high in Swaziland, but it was good enough to give us decent views of the surrounding area.

1-P1250844

In the distance we could see the Somhlolo National Stadium in Lobamba that was hosting the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Swaziland and Malawi. I wouldn’t like to have to watch a game from our seats on the summit as it’s probably on a par with the view afforded to away fans at Newcastle.

1-P1250833

The build up to the game had been dominated by the position of the Swazi manager and one morning the two main Swazi newspapers had led their sports coverage with conflicting exclusives, one revealing that he had signed a new contract and the other announcing that he’d been fired.

He was still there on the day of the game so I’d recommend getting your news from The Times of Swaziland rather than the Swaziland Observer.

1-P1250870

Tickets for the game were E30 (£1.50) a pop and we bought a couple outside from a fella selling them from his car. I’ve no idea if he was official or not but with the game extremely unlikely to sell out I can’t see there being much scope for touting.

We took up seats in the North stand behind the goal, partly because we hadn’t sat there on our previous visit to the stadium earlier in the year and partly because if we looked to our right we could see the Nyonyane peak above the West stand.

1-P1250874

Malawi, in red, started the better of the teams when Phiri’s shot from the corner of the penalty box beat the Swazi goalie at his near post. The goal celebrations revealed that there were around thirty Malawi supporters in the West stand.

The home side levelled after a quarter of an hour when Malawi’s keeper hesitated over whether or not to come for a cross. He eventually made his mind up but then slipped and left Badenhorst a free header into an unguarded net.

The goal of the game came a few moments later when Msowoya put the visitors back in front with a bicycle kick that he’d teed up for himself. Very impressive.

At half-time there were still people arriving, many of them taking up positions in the new East stand to our left. A few fellas were standing on what remained of the open terracing in the corner, watching the game in the traditional way.

1-P1250881

Swaziland equalised in the second half with another unchallenged header and despite plenty of chances at either end that’s the way it stayed. One of the misses was so bad that a fan near us kicked out in frustration and sent his shoe flying.

At the final whistle the Malawi players slumped to the floor as if they’d just lost a cup final so I suspect that they had expected more than a point from the game.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: