BY LINDA DLAMINI
MBABANE – The debate raging within the Kingdom of Eswatini is whether the longest serving incumbent President Adam “Bomber” Mtsetfwa should stand for the upcoming National Football Association elections for the presidential seat where he is facing his toughest competition in challenger Dr Comfort Shongwe.
The elections are expected to be held at the end of July 2021, and Mtsetfwa who has been President of the federation for over 20 years, comprising four consecutive terms since he came back into power during 2005, following a four year break from 2001-2005 appears to be headed for his toughest challenge yet.
Dr Shongwe who is a well-known football administrators in the Kingdom of Eswatini, has worked at regional level as Chairman of Hhohho regional football association and is currently the Vice President of the football Association of Eswatini.
In a no –holds –barred interview, Dr Shongwe revealed that he was available and looking forward to leading the country’s football. He said his main focus of priority, should he be elected, would be club licencing, grassroots and infrastructural development.
He strongly believes that players should be developed by teams in the elite league, the Premier League of Eswatini and this responsibility should not be confined to the National Football Association.
“You see most coaches who have been in the helm of our national team Sihlangu Semnikati at various times, have continuously complained about the lack of friendly matches prior to AFCON or World Cup qualifiers,” said Shongwe.
“This is a priority area that we should redress as a matter of urgency. Should I win the elections, this problem would be confined to the scrapheaps of history because I feel that our national team should have adequate friendly matches even with overseas national teams and this thing is doable.”
When it comes to infrastructure, Dr Shongwe said the situation is not bad as around the country as almost all the four regions now have decent standard sports ground.
He pointed out the Sobhuza Sports Ground in the Shiselweni region and KaLanga Sports Centre in the Lubombo region. He is therefore convinced that with the availability of such impeccable facilities the country is on the right direction.
Expanding on club licensing, Shongwe said his vision is to see clubs being run professionally. He undertook to ensure that clubs appointed full time Chief Executive Officers, operated from proper offices so that they would be able to exist and function independently without relying on handouts.
He added that he would also look deeply into the possibility of ensuring that Premier League teams received monthly grants from the National Football Association of Eswatini for sustainability.