By Sibongiseni Zondi | 2018-02-13
SOCCER - THE National Football Association of Swaziland (NFAS) has finally confirmed the departure of beleaguered Sihlangu coach Pieter De Jongh.
Last week Tuesday the Swazi Observer reported that the NFAS had terminated De Jongh's contract which was due to expire next month. This publication revealed that the coach had subsequently departed the country on the last week of January having been given his notice pay.
Yesterday afternoon, the football motherbody finally released a statement confirming the departure of the Belgian born coach. “The National Football Association of Swaziland (NFAS), Executive Committee and Senior National Team Coach, Mr. Pieter Hendrikus De Jongh have mutually decided to terminate the Coach’s contract; which was due to elapse on March 31. In view of this mutual termination; the current Assistant to the Head Coach, Mr. Anthony Mdluli has been appointed as an Interim Head Coach. Further details on the full complement of the national team technical staff and management will be released in due course,” the FA wrote in a brief statement.
De Jongh took over as the national team coach in March 2017 replacing the much loved Harries 'Madze' Bulunga who was unceremoniously let go by the NFAS. Bulunga had led Sihlangu to a third place finish at the COSAFA Cup in 2016.
De Jongh's first official match in charge saw Sihlangu hold Niger to a goalless draw in the first match of 2019 AFCON qualifiers back in June 2017. However, things went downhill for the Belgian coach from there with Sihlangu crashing out at the first attempt at the 2017 COSAFA Cup held later that month. The national side had received a bye to the quarterfinals and were beaten 2-1 by Zimbabwe before Namibia beat the locals 1-0 in the plate semi-finals.
In July the national side would suffer even further embarrassment as Zambia beat De Jongh's charges 7-0 on aggregate in the 2018 CHAN qualifiers. The 3-0 second leg loss to Zambia in those qualifiers ultimately became De Jongh's last match in charge of the national team, with the NFAS failing to secure international friendly matches for the side in the September, October and November 2017 FIFA weeks.
It is understood that former Sihlangu coach Bulunga is one of the coaches being considered by the FA to fill the vacant post permanently.
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