Rekindling the Love Affairs

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Captain Henrico Botes It’s almost a year since Brave Warriors captain Henrico Botes played on home turf, at last year’s Cosafa Castle Cup where he satisfied the national audience with his stunning repertoire of feints, step-overs and dribbles .His goal against Botswana is part of the only treasured moments of that easy-to-forget night when the Brave Warriors lost out on penalties to Botswana, after a one-all stalemate. The reigning Namibia Footballer of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year returns to lead the country with much pressure on him to prove his mettle. His 35th minute strike last year could not salvage the pride as Namibia went on to miss all but one of their spot kicks. The 2005 Ramblers top goal scorer is in the thrust of his career whereby his club Moroka Swallows has transformed him from a shy teenager unreliable on his temperament into a confident and charismatic national team captain. Henrico has the build and strength to make a big mark in this weekend’s games, and his driven motive is needed for the Brave Warriors to get to Sunday’s play-off final. There is no doubt he is a gem of a forward – the pick of the crop of that generation that emerged from Khomasdal in the late ’90s. It is not only his title in the squad that is eye-catching for a team seeking to redeem lost pride, but Henrico’s overall contribution to the team’s cause, his majestic runs on the right flank, his enthusiasm for national duty and his determination to open a new chapter after the horror of last year’s Cosafa edition, all add up to make him a hitman. Henrico likes to get things done faster. If the midfielders fail to open a supply route, the skipper does the workhorse part himself. His only weakness however is an insatiable appetite for goals that makes him fail to recognise fellow strikers upfront. The captain has a cocky awareness to prove that his award from the NFA last year was not a robbery to Civics’ William Chilufya who cried foul. Razundara Tjikuzu Razy, they call him. Many will be surprised to see how the 26-year-old has gained weight. But do not take it for granted, Razy is a natural midfielder and perhaps Namibia’s only soul for the Brave Warriors. Given his jovial and outgoing mood, Razy is very much in his element-milieu and will want to prove why he currently is the most expensive player to come out of the Land of the Brave. Ruthless against small sized midfielders, the midfield lynchpin is a natural replacement for Johannes Congo Hindjou. Currently choreographing his skills in Turkey, Razy’s character will be put to test. He would not want to be outplayed in match one by Seychelles. Victory in match two against either the Zambians or the Flames of Malawi will mean more flights to Africa, as the Cosafa will stretch to the August semi-finals and to the finals in October. The Namibian was almost scooped by English club Crystal Palace but did not qualify for a work permit because Namibia is not inside the top 75 in the FIFA rankings, in line with the Home Office policy on employment of foreign footballers. Nobody can look beyond Razy to drive the midfield motor with so much efficiency in tomorrow’s game. He gives a reason to live our dream. However, it will depend on which Tjikzu turns up at Katutura tomorrow. Is it the undisciplined player who was fired by Weder Bremen last year on Valentine’s Day for late arrivals at training, the same Razy who had a run in with the law, losing his driving license for driving under the influence of the precious liquid? The pressure is on Razy to prove that he is that prodigal son who has come back reformed and for the good of the motherland. Already, it has been seen with the way he went about his workout. This all-action player will definitely stand out and rekindle the dream. He might not score as most fans would wish, but expect his mental telepathy with hard running Paulus Shipanga to provide the leeway for goals. Hartman Toromba A defender whose profile is gathering considerable pages that makes his curriculum vitae very attractive to his future employers, Hartman Toromba is Namibia’s answer to any rampant strike-force at this tournament. Recently acquired by Black Leopards in South Africa, Toromba appears tailor-made for national team duties. His stature says it all. Patrolling the whole backyard with ease, Toromba is a pillar of calmness in defense with crucial interventions that offer a sense of security, to Gerry Keister and hard running Michael Pienaar. Toromba’s tenacious fights in the ugly face of adversity makes him a suspect to be easily enlisted in the culprits’ book and that’s where he and referees disagree. Defending with sufficient conviction, Toromba’s antics are easily misinterpreted by referees as fouls. The big defender displays all the stereotypes associated with rural football which is more than a streak of true African defensive footwork. Athiel Mbaha Still haunted by last year’s penalty shoot-out and the last minute equalizer of Botswana, the big goalie is undoubtedly the country’s safest hands, desperate to avoid a similar situation to last year. His oversized body does little to disturb his agility. In fact, he uses it to threaten defenders. Easily emotional, Mbaha is good on one-on-one encounters with strikers and any premier league aficionado knows how well the Blue Waters keeper can be, if his midfield is efficient. The acrimony that marred last year’s goal still lingers in the goalie, after his defender failed to negotiate a cross that Botswana’s Moemedi Moatihaping rose to head home on the stroke of full-time. Exposing his weakness might send the Seychelles camp back to training. Heini Isaacks The Premier League’s latest find. If given a chance, the 22-year -ld might be a replica of how Brian Gurirab tore down the Botswana defense. The small sized attacking midfielder is awesome. A predatory goal poacher and the country’s leading goal scorer, Heini Isaacks is always a threat out of nothing. Ben might find him crucial on the final on Sunday. With his slicked black hair, brusque manner and squinty gaze, Isaacks might score the goal of the tournament if Henrico’s pace and acceleration can mesh with the Civilian’s cheeky body swerves and dribbling maneuvers. His shortcomings have been on stature. Isaacks can be marked out of the game by big defenders. But form is temporary. Class is permanent; it’s the magical moment that makes a genius. The most fouled player in the league, the pint-sized player might do us a big favour by getting the country an early penalty. Just in case you didn’t know, the Brave Warriors are in town. And don’t thank the coach; thank the mothers for bringing up such talent at such a time as this.

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