05 Jan 2012 - Story by Carlos Kambaekwa
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WINDHOEK â€" A confident three-member team from the Namibia Football Association (NFA) jetted out of the country yesterday for the final showdown in the protracted appeal involving Cameroonian-born defender Herve Zengue.
The International Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) is expected to deliver the final verdict on Namibia's appeal in Zurich, Switzerland by tomorrow.
At the centre of the storm is the disputed eligibility of Zengue, who is married to a Burkinabee and turned out for the Stallions in both legs of the 2012 African qualifiers against Namibia.
However, the Namibians are not exactly convinced that Burkina Faso has followed the prescribed FIFA procedures regarding the registration of footballers of foreign origin and wants the tiny West African country kicked out of the 16-nation tournament to be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon on January 16.
The African Football Federation (CAF) has already rejected Namibia's initial protest and subsequent appeal without looking at the substance of the matter â€" but the Namibians would have none of that and have now taken their plea to CAS in a last-ditch attempt to see justice prevail.
The NFA's long-serving President John Muinjo leads a 3-member delegation that includes the association's Secretary-General Barry Rukoro and well-known local legal guru, Shafimana Ueitele.
Internationally acclaimed sports advocate, Reinhardt Stuenkel, will join the trio upon arrival in Zurich.
Muinjo believes Namibia has a strong case and hinted that CAF was in the habit of taking some of its affiliates for granted, notably those who are not in its circle of friends.
"If we were not convinced the case was up for grabs, we would not have gone through the trouble of protests and appeals. If rules are not being obeyed then we are wasting our precious time playing international football, while 'falsely' preaching fair play," charged Muinjo angrily before thanking the football-loving Namibian public and the media for their unwavering support through this particular process.
Strangely, Burkina Faso has left Zengue out of their provisional squad for the 2012 AFCON finals in a desperate effort to avoid further embarrassment and inevitable humiliation of being kicked out of the tournament.
In the likely event of CAS ruling in favour of the NFA, the Brave Warriors will be grouped alongside Ivory Coast, Angola and Sudan in the three-week long continental showpiece.