…We reveal why Felix Badenhorst has been overlooked for Sihlangu
By Lwazi Dlamini and Ntokozo Magongo
The cat is finally out of the bag. Mbabane Swallows talisman Felix Badenhorst’ is shockingly being overlooked for senior national team call-ups despite being in red-hot form due to previous misdemeanours.
Eswatini Financial Times has exclusively gathered that the former Sihlangu captain allegedly led players to a strike over unpaid allowances during the 2021 COSAFA Cup held in Port Elizabeth.
Badenhorst, who was the squad captain at the time, was vocal about the unpaid allowances and reportedly coerced some of the players to stage a strike which needed the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) top officials in particular Chief Executive Officer Frederick Mngometulu to move in quickly and diffuse.
Ever since, the current MTN league-leading goal-scorer with 17 goals this season has not been called up to the senior national team, Sihlangu. He missed the COSAFA Cup held in Durban in July 2022 and has not been called up for the AFCON 2023 qualifiers despite being in red-hot form.
There has been an outcry almost in all corners of the country after the former Manzini Wanderers player was left out of the squad that crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifiers while he is one of the current best players in the country.
“The EFA Executive Committee at the time then took a decision after receiving reports from Port Elizabeth that he will never be called up for Sihlangu. People can complain and say whatever they want to say about his performance and goals, but he will never play for Sihlangu again because of initiating a strike in Port Elizabeth,” a highly impeccable source at the EFA told this publication.
The source further stated that after the players threatened to strike, some top officials from EFA declared that all those who were at the forefront were never going to be part of the team again.
“It is saddening because it is the team and the country that are suffering just because of some glitches that happened a long time ago. The players wanted part of their allowances as they also wanted to use it while in South Africa. That irked some influential and top officials from the association and since then, he had been snubbed,” added our highly placed source.
The source added that he was not even hauled before a Disciplinary Committee (DC) before the decision to snub him was taken.
“Some top officials from EFA warned the technical bench against calling up Badenhorst and this has been going on for the past two years. It is saddening because the team belongs to the nation, not individuals. Before you punish a person you haul him or her before a DC and in this matter, it was not the case,” said the source.
The former Mbombela United and Jomo Cosmos player is now the current all-time goal scorer of the COSAFA Cup after scoring his 9th goal in the competition in a 3-1 win for Eswatini against Lesotho at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in 2021, the last time he played in the tournament.
Sihlangu Coach Dominic Kunene when asked why Badenhorst was not part of his squad, during a press conference ahead of the Cape Verde back-to-back clashes, gave an unconvincing response, saying the goal-a-game striker was still in his plans.
Badenhorst requested not to go to the merits of what transpired in Port Elizabeth, but he is still shocked why he was being left out. He said if there was something wrong he did, he could have been hauled before the Disciplinary Committee (DC).
“I was worried why I was always snubbed for the national team, and I thought it was performance-based. I believe I was supposed to be called before the DC if there is something wrong that I did even though I doubt there was,” he told Eswatini Financial Times this week.
Badenhorst said at his age (34 years) he now believes that chances [should] be given to the young stars especially going to the COSAFA Cup. He said the most important assignment for the national team was the AFCON qualifiers but now with Eswatini out, he believes his time was up for the national team.
EFA Communications and Marketing Manager, Muzi Radebe declined to comment on the issue. Eswatini lost 1-0 to Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks on Tuesday at Mbombela Stadium which deferred the dream of qualifying for the AFCON tournament to be held in Ivory Coast in January 2024.