Kid Sensation Heini, Hot Favourite

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By Confidence Musariri The country’s predatory striker and league top goalscorer Heini Isaacks might walk away N$10 000 fatter this Saturday at the NFA Awards, as most fellow sportsmen have tipped the 21-year-old to scoop the player of the season award. The Civics evergreen striker who netted 20 goals in 22 league games will automatically receive the top goalscorer award but coaches interviewed by New Era also favoured the forward. Civics scored 55 goals amassing a massive 53 points to win the league and club manager Paul Stramis expressed his faith in the striker’s clinical touch. “No one else deserves that award except Heini Isaacks. It would be political or else unfair to land that award to someone else,” said Stramis. National team assistant coach and Orlando Pirates mentor, Brian Isaaks, also put his money on the Civilian. “Heini Isaacks strikes me as a player of note in our league and he deserves the accolade of player of the season.” The Orlando Pirates coach also identified the antics of African Stars goalkeeper Samuel Mulupe as favouring him as another possible season’s performer. Small in stature but impressive on the leap, Isaacks sat in the top echelons of the league’s goalscoring table with a ten-goal gap with rival Lazarus Kaimbi who was injury prone the whole of last season. The 2006 season was the twilight of Isaacs’ career where he transformed himself from a shy teenager into confident and possible national team ammunition. Civics fans became accustomed to the player’s speedy runs, sudden bursts of pace and acceleration, cheeky body swerves and dribbling maneuvers, and of course spiced by goals. The striker was ruthless against premier league pretenders, scoring a brace in the 5-nil demolition of Cymot SKW and a hat trick in the 5-1 victory over Oshakati City recently. “He is the shackles in Civics’ chain. I cannot imagine a day without Heini,” said team manager Stramis. Heini says his most memorable goal to date is the first leg one-all draw against Orlando Pirates. “I had my back against the Pirates goalie and 35 meters outside the box, when I received a pass from Rudi Louw,” recounts the striker. With the defenders assuming another square pass to Louw who was opening up on the flank, Isaacs turned, slalomed and rocketed a shot past the entire crop of Pirates defenders. “Heini, no doubt. That boy is good. He gave us a headache,” began Tigers’ Kelly Asser, adding, “Our league is too small and our participation at international level was limited and that restricts our scope of finding the best player, but Heini Isaacks deserves the top award.” A graduate of the Brian Isaacs Academy, Isaacs obtained his fourth cap in the national team during the easy-to-forget Cosafa tournament a fortnight ago. He first donned the Brave Warriors jersey as an 18-year-old substitute against Chad in a Nations Cup qualifier, before being chosen against Angola in the Soccer House inauguration match. He was then dropped from the team that played a Germany invitational squad last year, subsequently losing out a place in the 2005 Cosafa Games. This year, the striker was not included in the team that lost on penalties to Seychelles, but reclaimed his authority when Coach Ben Bamfuchile had to make last minute alterations following the misdemeanor of foreign players. Isaacks opened the scoresheet against Malawi and created the penalty and assisted in the Brave Warriors’ third goal for the tournament. He is the only Namibian this year to score a goal on international assignment, outside the country. That goal came when Civics bowed out of the African Champions League by losing 2-1 to Angolan Esperanca Sagrada. Club coach Helmuth Scharnowski will be returning from Germany, where he had traveled to source a market for the player, according to Stramis. The nomination of the player of the season is done by coaches who submit names of possible candidates, while the NFA will do the overall selection. However, former champions Blue Waters have a different name in their notebooks. “I would certainly pick a player from my club because I know them in and out. Without doubt, Marraei Swartbooi would make the player of the season,” said Blue Waters coach, Shepherd Murape. The gaffer believes besides Swartbooi, Tigers’ Jeremia Mbaisako and Athiel Mbaha (Blue Waters) also stand head and shoulders above the rest. Continued Murape, “Marrai became a play-maker whose contribution made us real championship favourites, until his departure.” Swartbooi is the only player to break the ice on invading the professional Angolan league from Namibia, while Mbaha was responsible for the club winning the FNB Cup, despite losing out top players to South Africa. However, Swartbooi’s chances will be spoilt by the red card he carried before crossing the border .The stoical midfielder received one red card and accumulated the most number of yellow cards, as compared to Isaacks, if the players are to go head-on. Heini Isaacks only received three yellow cards, while Swartbooi has more than six yellows and a red. “As far as I am concerned, Jamunovandu Ngatjizeko and Heini Isaacks might be the two nominees. The other one was scoring the goals while the other did the defending, which explains why Civics conceded the least number of goals. But Heini is the best, I would go for him,” said national Under 20 and Tigers coach, Bobby Samaria.