Sihlangu marksman Felix Badenhorst is confident Swaziland has the verve to win this year’s COSAFA Cup.
The shining former Swazi international and Mbabane Swallows attacking midfielder will be in the spotlight during the 2018 instalment of the regional soccer showpiece, which gets underway in Polokwane, South Africa, this coming Sunday.
Badenhorst, with six goals, is Sihlangu’s leading scorer in the annual tournament and he is a goal shy of all-time top scorer Peter Ndlovu’s tally.
The former AS Vita midfielder said he was not under pressure to match Peter Ndlovu’s tally, but was targeting to at least win gold with the Swaziland national team.
“My target is to reach the final with Sihlangu or even win it. But we know it won’t be easy, but we have to go and give our best and see how far we can go.
“Yes, we can go all the way if we work hard. We have a good team that have been together for sometime,” said Badenhorst.
Badenhorst said he was honoured to be mentioned alongside big names in the region like Peter Ndlovu of Zimbabwe and Manuel ‘Tico-Tico’ Bucuane from Mozambique, highlighting that it was a motivation to reach for the stars.
“It’s a great honour for me to be among great names in this African region of COSAFA.
“I remember growing up watching it on television and passionately supporting my country. I never thought I would be there too,” he said.
Felix is part of the record-breaking Mbabane Swallows squad that has reached the group stages of the CAF Champions League for the first time. He conceded that the experience of the six Swallows players at Sihlangu would come in handy, but emphasised on teamwork.
“We have to push and give everything as a team. We know other countries will be coming strong as well, so we also have to fight as a group,” he said.
Felix scored five goals in the 2016 tournament to claim the golden boot award in a fruitful outing for Sihlangu that saw them bagging bronze for the first time. He was also on target in last year’s tournament.
Meanwhile, Sihlangu, who are under the tutelage of Anthony Mdluli, have intensified their preparations for the COSAFA Cup. They are away to face Kenya’s Harambe Stars in warm-up match set for Friday, May 25.
The team have been in camp for over a week. The squad has since been trimmed from 25 to 20 players. Swallows defender Sanele Mkhweli is among the five players that have failed to make the cut in the team to play Kenya. The others are Royal Leopard goalkeeper Phephisani Msibi, Young Buffaloes duo of Fanelo ‘Order’ Mamba and Siboniso Ngwenya as well as Moneni Pirates defender Menzi ‘Magawugawu’ Simelane.
“I believe in the team, especially because it comprises both senior and young players. We have all been working hard at training and we are now focussed on the Kenya game as we wind up preparations for the COSAFA Castle Cup. Everything is in our hands,” said team captain Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze.
It was explained that the left-out players could still make it to the COSAFA Cup. Sihlangu, who face Lesotho in the quarter-finals on June 3, are expected to leave for Polokwane on the last day of the month.
By Ashmond Nzima