Hardap Take the Crown

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Walvis Bay The Hardap Region were crowned the new champions of The Namibian Newspaper Regional Cup yesterday after they beat the Karas Region 4-3 on penalties at the Kuisebmund Stadium in Walvis Bay. The southern regions’ derby final ended 2-all after 120 minutes of football in front of the fully packed stadium. The Hardap Region, which hosted the competition last year, opened the score in the 21st minute through Civics FC’s hard working midfielder Brian Brendall with a clever goal. The Hardap Region, which lost in the final last year, took their foot off the fuel after the goal and allowed Karas to start controlling the fiercely contested match. Karas which was given no chance of progressing to the final stages of the competition before the games even started were rewarded for their constant pressure in the 34th minute when Hans Witbooi scored an own goal to draw the score level. The half time score was 1-1. In the second half Swartz increased Hardap’s lead when he scored a goal in the 50th minute. The goal seemed to be enough for Hardap to win their first ever The Namibian Newspaper Regional Cup but the Karas Region had other ideas. With the match moving into extra time Karas scored an amazing equaliser through their midfielder Christians to send the match into extra time. However, Hardap kept their nerve and won the game 4-3 on penalties. The winners of last year Otjozondjupa were eliminated during their match of the competition. The 2005 winners were exempt from the first round and met ultimate winners Hardap in their first match. The match, which was a repeat of last year’s final, failed to live up to expectations as Otjozondjupa did not put up a strong fight and gave away the title too easily. Otjozondjupa looked ill prepared and allowed Brendell to score at will. Hardap booked their place in the semi-finals by beating Otjozondjupa 4 -1 comfortably. Hardap are really the worthy winners of the tournament and since the first game made their intentions clear. The southern region humiliated Oshana Region 5-1 in their first match, which kicked off the tournament. In the second game on Sunday Kavango Region who made it into the last four beat Oshikoto 4-2 and after displaying some good football in the opening match the Kavango Region was tipped for making it to the final. Another semi-finalist Khomas Region, a previous winner of the tournament, overcame a stubborn Omusati Region 1-0 in their first game on Friday. The victory put them head to head with Erongo Region on Saturday afternoon and the Windhoek based side made no mistake to beat them 3-0 to silence the home crowd. However, in the semi-final Khomas succumbed to the pressure of Karas who grew from strength to stength as the tournament progressed. The Namibian Newspaper Regional Cup was launched in 2001 and very quickly became one of the most exciting competitions on the local calendar. Teams selected from the 13 regions of the country contest the annual tournament. The town of Walvis Bay was the latest to host the competition after it was played in Windhoek, Otjiwarongo, Gobabis, Oshakati and Mariental. From 2003, the Namibia Football Association (NFA) started using the shadow team selected at the tournament for warm-up matches for the senior national side while some of the players from the shadow team were selected to tour Germany.