By Carlos Kambaekwa
Local Cup Kings Black Africa will be out to avenge their defeat at the hands of Ramblers in the 2004/2005 edition of the lucrative Tafel Lager NFA Cup – the country’s richest soccer tournament.
The Black and Red Katutura outfit did not have to wait too long to set up a rematch with the Pionierspark-based outfit who clawed their way back from the jaws of defeat in that particular match to beat Africa in a nail-biting penalty shootout at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium in 2005.
The two giants are to face each other in the final of the annual FNB Knockout Cup at the same venue tomorrow afternoon (kick off 18h00).
As opposed to their last meeting in a major cup final, Ramblers look much stronger on paper this time around while Black Africa have lost the services of a number of stalwarts including the man who gave Ramblers a torrid time on that historic afternoon and who has now crossed the floor.
There’s an old adage that says if you can’t beat them, then join them, and this is exactly what Sierra Leone and former Black Africa’s veteran striker John Samson did when the bow-legged goal poacher jumped ship to seek refuge in Tunchel Street after the Quinton Jacobs’-inspired Ramblers ended Black Africa’s dominance in knock-out competitions.
On the other hand, former Ramblers’ anchorman Duncan Subeb who played a blinder in that match before he was sent off alongside his now teammate and captain Lolo Goraseb will be out to prove that he has lost none of his winning mentality and would want to put one over his former teammates.
Ramblers will be minus their foreign imports – midfield dynamo Bernadine Bilizi from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambian striker Danny Chilufwya are definite non-starters through injury.
However, Captain Fantastic Michael “Dolam Tower” Pienaar who missed the semi-final against Sport Klub Windhoek a fortnight ago returns to bolster the team’s patchy defence while stylish midfield-cum-striker Pineas Jacobs also stakes a claim for a starting berth after both players missed the semifinal through national commitments.
Black Africa possesses a match winner of note in Jerome Louis and the sometimes complacent Ramblers’ rearguard would be better advised to underestimate Smithley Engelbrecht’s youthful side at their own peril.
Veteran midfielder Lolo Goraseb is still pulling the strings in the middle of the park for Africa and the pint-sized playmaker remains amongst the finest footballers to have ever have come out of Namibian shores in recent times and could easily rise to the occasion when the situation demands.
Black Africa’s veteran defender Muree Katjiteo still has some unfinished business with the Tunchel Street Boys following his failure to complete his assignment the last time the two teams met in the final.
The robust defender was given his marching orders and watched his team from the stands as they crumbled in the dreaded penalty shootout, which saw Ramblers triumphant.
Tomorrow’s final will be preceded by an exhibition match, featuring a Parliament Eleven against a Corporate Invitational Side to be skippered by the Managing-Director of FNB Namibia Vekuii Rukoro, while the Speaker of the National Assembly Theo-Ben Gurirab is to wear the captain’s armband for the Parliamentarians.