There are not many sides that travel to Harare and come away with a win in any competition, but it has proven an especially tough venue for teams in the COSAFA Castle Cup.
Going against that grain were the Swaziland side that competed in the 2002 tournament as they faced-off against Zimbabwe in the quarterfinals and came away with a stunning 2-0 victory.
It was one of the great shocks in the early years of the COSAFA Castle Cup and still today remains one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s near two-decade history.
At the time it was arguably the biggest victory in the history of the Swaziland national side, who were then ranked number 132 in the world, but came away with a victory against a home team placed 67 positions above them.
It was the first time Swaziland had beaten Zimbabwe and the first away win for the Swazis in six years of competing in the annual southern African championship.
Strikers Siza Dlamini and Sibusiso Dlamini both scored in the second half against a Zimbabwean side featuring five overseas-based professionals in their starting line-up.
Siza Dlamini burst through the midfield and shrugged off several defenders, running half the length of the pitch before chipping over Zimbabwe’s goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini for the opening goal on the hour mark.
Zimbabwe’s English-based captain Peter Ndlovu and striker Benjani Mwaruwari, who back then played in Switzerland with Grasshoppers, carved out several chances for the hosts in the opening 15 minutes.
But as the game progressed Swaziland gained in confidence and sealed a remarkable victory in stoppage time when Sibusiso Dlamini outsprinted the goalkeeper to a loose ball and scored into an empty net from a tight angle.
“It was a disgraceful performance, we have no excuses,’ said Ndlovu afterwards.”
Swaziland advanced to the semifinals to meet South Africa, where they were beaten 4-1 by the eventual champions.
But that should not detract from one of their greatest days on the football field, something they will be hoping to emulate when they take part in the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup that will be staged in Namibia from June 11-26.
Swaziland have been drawn in a first round Group A along with, coincidentally, Zimbabwe, Seychelles and Madagascar.
Sunday, May 5, 2002 – Harare
Swaziland (0) 2
Goals: 0-1 Siza Dlamini 60’; 0-2 Sibusiso Dlamini 89’
Ref.: Louis Simisse (Mauritius)
Cautions: Dumisani Mpofu 64’; Mxolisi Mthethwa 42’
Man of the match: Sibusiso Dlamini (Swaziland)
Zimbabwe: Tapuwa Kapini, James Matola, Dickson Choto, David Sengu, Dumisani Mpofu, Esrom Nyandoro, Misheck Makota (Lenny Gwata 51’), Master Masiku (Francis Chandida 64’ [Samson Choruwa 75’]), Shingai Kaondera, Benjamin Mwaruwaru, Peter Ndlovu. Coach: Wieslaw Grabowksi.
Swaziland: Linoh Magagula, Bongani Masangane, Jerry Gamedze, Mlungisi Ngubane, Mxolisi Mthethwa, Joe Simelane, Sbonsio Maseko, Sibusiso Dlamini, Dennis Masina (Patrick Mkhwanazi 84’), Siza Dlamini, Mfanzile Dlamini. Coach: Dumisa Mahlalela.