Oh Ooh; Heini and Collin Benjamin Out

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By Confidence Musariri Runaway league goal-scorer and newly-crowned national team kingpin, Heini Isaacks, has left for Germany on the eve of the 2008 Nations Cup qualifier against DRC in search of greener pastures as the Brave Warriors’ preparations for the tie hit a slight snag. Speaking from the team’s Johannesburg base yesterday, national soccer team manager, Markus Damaseb, confirmed that all but German-based midfielder Collin Benjamin, Heini Isaacs and Angolan import Merraai Swartbooi would not be part of the DRC debacle. Benjamin was expected to join the squad before the flight to Kinshasa on August 31, but the SV Hamburg anchorman suffered a hamstring injury over the weekend in his team’s 1-3 loss to Hertha Berlin in a Bundesliga tie. Former Blue Waters diminutive midfielder, Swartbooi, has again failed to play in Bamfuchile’s team for the umpteenth time, this time due to a groin injury suffered over the weekend. The conventional midfielder was one of the first foreign-based internationals to be called by Bamfuchile, but injury and club commitments have kept him from being a Brave Warrior. His club, Primer da Agosto, is on top of the Angolan premiership and would definitely do anything at its disposal to preserve its prized asset. Damaseb could not verify the severity of the injury. Heini Isaacks joined the crusade to Europe where his club coach, Helmuth Scharnowski, is said to have organized a three-week trial period for the reigning NFA Player of the Year. Isaacks left last week with club mate, William Chilufya, while Rudi Louw was expected to follow today. “It will be a three-to-four-week trial period for the trio,” confirmed Civics manager, Paul Straumus. Isaacks has recently risen to be the soul of the Brave Warriors’ heartbeat. He was undoubtedly the Man-of-the-Match against Bafana Bafana a fortnight ago, where he kept Sibusiso Zuma at sixes and sevens all night. In the 3-2 Cosafa victory over Malawi, the striker opened the score sheet before assisting in the two goals that Namibia scored. However, Damaseb maintains that the camp is not grieving as the coach still has players of ruthless efficiency. “There is no panic in camp, Collin has only played once for the national team and we still have another 20 players to choose from, and the morale is still high,” he said. Coach Ben Bamfuchile last night reshuffled and trimmed the team by two players instead of the scheduled four. WO Ramblers goalkeeper, Esau Tjiouro, and African Stars’ front-man, Johannes Seibeb, are the only two players who have been dropped from the squad and they will return home in the next 24 hours. They will, however, remain on standby in case injury hits the camp while Cape Town Ajax’s Quinton Jacobs is expected to complete his move to Norwegian Second Division side Bryne FC today and join the squad at the earliest of all possibilities. The national team yesterday recovered remarkably from the Sundowns nightmare to beat premier league side, Jomo Cosmos, 2-0 at lunchtime in another friendly match where Ramblers’ Victor Helu and Black Leopards’ freshman, Costa Kheiseb, were on target. The Brave Warriors will fly with 20 players on Friday to DRC and, quizzed on whether the team might miss Lollo Goraseb’s almighty presence, Damaseb defended the exclusion of the Black Africa hardened veteran. “When Bamfuchile arrived in Namibia for the first time, we called all the players into camp and Lollo never showed up. It’s true he (Lollo) asked us to write a letter to the Permanent Secretary requesting leave from work, and we did. However, we were surprised to learn the following Wednesday that Lollo had left with the Coca Cola Youth Cup. The coach has not seen him and has not indicated anything about him, because he started with the players that he found there. Obviously, no one has a guaranteed place in the squad, but remember, the coach will have another opportunity to watch the players once the league gets underway,” said Damaseb, supremely articulate. With 68 caps under his chin, the stoical Sylvester Lollo Goraseb has expressed his fury at the way the selection of players is being done in the Brave Warriors’ technical department. The 33-year-old star midfielder was the captain of the local national team players for the past 12 months, but has never featured in Bamfuchile’s squad. Damaseb maintains that there is a great difference in the way Lollo and Congo were dropped from the squad. “The coach has not met Lollo but has in fact had time with Congo. However, we have sufficient manpower and do not regret anyone missing from the squad at the moment.” Damaseb claims that Lollo’s case is also similar to that of Michael Pienaar who had work commitments but was granted leave by his paymasters to feature in the national team. “He was not supposed to leave for the Coca Cola Youth cup because it was crucial for him to meet the coach, but he only returned long after the team had started to gel,” said Damaseb. The 31-year-old Lollo donned the famous Number 6 jersey during his heyday and wants the technical department to sort out his work schedule with the Permanent Secretary or the Director at the Prime Minister’s office, where he is employed. “I cannot be out there for long because I am needed at work. I am always there for the national team,” Lolla told New Era. Lollo remains one of the surviving players who witnessed the transition of the 1998 team into the doldrums. He started his international career at the turn of the Brave Warriors’ fortunes in 1998 and has been the captain of the President’s XI, local version of the national team, ever since its inception last year. A potentially explosive friendly with either Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs hit the rocks yesterday afternoon, and the Brave Warriors will now play little-known South African club, Reading. Yesterday’s victorious friendly was the first competitive match where Bamfuchile had the opportunity to field all the players at his disposal. Against Mamelodi Sundowns last Friday, only Paulus Shipanga was present while the rest were local premiership players.