A basketball coach’s dream to marry King Mswati III’s eldest daughter, Princess Sikhanyiso, could be dashed.Mzwakhe Phiri (30), an owner of Dunkylaine Basketball Academy and an aerobic instructor in the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane, is now facing competition from another suitor, Inkosi Sandile Ngomane (42), who presides over the Hhoyi Traditional Council in Mpumalanga’s Nkomazi area.Phiri is already dating the Swazi princess, but he has been unable to raise the 50 cows he needs to open lobola negotiations with the royal family. The lobola itself could be 300 cows or more, which has delayed Phiri’s plans. His neighbours in Luhhumaneni, near Pigg’s Peak, had planned to donate cows to help him win Princess Sikhanyiso (30) over.But they may be too late, because love rival Ngomane was seen at the reed dance in Swaziland last week, where he made a public gesture of being in love, known as kumukha, in front of the monarch and his mother, Queen Ntombi Thwala. In fact, he was so warmly received by the royal family that he was allowed to approach them – generally, no one is allowed to do this.Ngomane confirmed to City Press this week that he wanted to propose to Princess Sikhanyiso.“I have ambitions to marry the princess, but I’ve not proposed to her,” he said. Ngomane said that, as part of the gesture, he planted a feather on the princess’ head and had wanted to put a waistband on her, but his nervousness got the better of him.“The feather fell because I was nervous. I picked it up and planted it on her head, but I left the band on the floor as I was too nervous,” he said about his first attempt at the courtship.Ngomane said that he had been “prominent” at Princess Sikhanyiso’s birthday celebrations over the past few years and was now known by the royal family. He added that certain family members had urged him “to try my luck”.“All I can say is I have not agreed to anything with the princess, but, if things go well, I will try to get those cows,” he said.Unlike Phiri – a former professional basketball player in Italy, Mozambique and Finland – Ngomane is a wealthy businessman who owns several farms in Mpumalanga and is chauffeured around in luxury cars.Although Phiri has been seen close to some of the Swazi princes, it may seem that his publicised love affair with Sikhanyiso had landed him in hot water. Rumours on Swazi social media has it that heavily armed soldiers raided Phiri’s apartment about two weeks ago and took valuables believed to have been presents from the princess. Swaziland’s local mainstream media has stayed clear of the matter for fear of the king.Phiri received words of comfort from friends on his Facebook page, telling him to stay strong.The latest turn of events will certainly shock the people of Luhhumaneni, who were hoping to have the princess as their neighbour. The subjects of the village chief, Prince Mnikwa Dlamini, had agreed to help Phiri raise the herd of cattle as lobola. Prince Mnikwa approached King Mswati III’s Johannesburg-based brother, Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini, for help.Attempts to reach Phiri on his phone failed.