Swaziland Under-20s out to end jinx

Richard Nkosi

Richard Nkosi

Swaziland Under-20 national team coach Harris Bulunga says his charges are in South Africa to end their jinx of never having gone past the group stages of any continental tournament.

The Swazis are among the 14 Southern African countries that are competing in the Metropolitan Cosafa Under-20 Championships which got underway on Saturday in Mpumalanga.

Today, the young Sihlangu will take on wounded Malawi in a Group C game pencilled for Thulamahashe Stadium in Bushbuckridge.

Kick-off is at 3pm.

Malawi lost their opening match 1-3 to Madagascar on Saturday. They stand a slim chance of advancing to the knockout stages in their group that comprises three teams. "We know that Malawi will come all-out. This game is a do or die for them but we are ready," said Bulunga.

"Our aim is to beat them to avoid pressure when we play Madagascar. The worst result would be a draw," he said.

He said their aim was to reach the knockout stage and that would be a big achievement for them.

"Eighty percent of our players were selected from the Premier League of Swaziland and I'm definitely sure that we will end the country's jinx of all our national teams of never going past the group stages in any of the continental tournaments," said Bulunga.

The coach will be looking at his two highly-rated strikers, Welile Maseko of Mbabane Swallows and Berry Steenkamp of Manzini Sundowns, to win him the game. A loss for Malawi will mean that they are out of the tournament, while a win or draw for Swaziland will give them some hope of advancing to the knockout stages. Swaziland will play Madagascar in their last group match on Wednesday at KaBokweni Stadium.