By Carlos Kambaekwa
The draw for the annual MTC Namibia Football Association’s Knock-Out Cup was conducted at the Association’s headquarters in the capital yesterday with all the big guns avoiding each other in the first round.
Defending champions African Stars have been pitted against former Namibia Premiership yo-yo side Golden Bees in what could prove to be one of the toughest encounters when the richest knock-out tournament in the annals of Namibian football gets under way on the 23rd and 24th of February 2008 at Otjiwarongo and Keetmanshoop respectively.
Current MTC Namibia Premiership leaders SKW have been handed a tough assignment in the form of previous winners Chief Santos.
All together 32 teams will compete for the first prize of N$350 000 with the runner-up taking home a sizeable consolation prize of N$130 000, while both semifinalists are guaranteed an amount of N$60 000 each.
A staggering amount of N$14 500 will be up for grabs in various individual categories – ranging from the Golden Boot, Player and Coaches of the Series awards to hordes of appetizing prizes in the Golden Pen Category for both electronic and print media.
All 12 teams cutting their teeth in the country’s elite league have been given berths with the two relegated sides Golden Bees and Friends also in the mix, while both runners-up, second and third placed teams from the Southern and Northern Streams have been thrown a lifeline.
The 13 regional league winners also found their way into the hat when the draw was made and were joined by the winner of last year’s Hansa Pilsener Cup competition Onambula United to complete a strong lineup of the 32-teams.
Ironically, Invincible Football Club which has been unceremoniously relegated from the Southern Stream Division One League to a lower division following allegations of match-fixing were notable absentees from the hat, despite the troubled club finishing third in the league last season and receiving its prize money accordingly.
Speaking at the official launch yesterday, the Sponsorship and Promotions Manager of MTC Amos Shiyuka, made no secret about his company’s commitment to the overall development of football in the country and applauded the Brave Warriors for their excellent performance at the recently-concluded 26th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.
“The entire Namibian nation is proud of their performance, in particular the team’s fighting spirit and one can only trust that their qualification and good showing at the continental showpiece can only serve as inspiration for the rest of our leagues to develop a desire of achieving even higher goals this season and years to come,” said Shiyuka.
Shiyuka noted that 80% of the players who represented Namibia at the Nations Cup finals are home based and would be able to partake in the MTC NFA Cup 2007/2008, and encouraged football administrators and participating teams to maintain a high standard of play and discipline for the remainder of the season to ensure the smooth running of the 2007/2008 football calendar.
In his keynote address, the Deputy President of the NFA Dr Korbenian Viskaya Amutenya cautioned against maladministration and emphasized the importance of building a solid foundation for the development of football for future generations.
He said: “Football development is a costly exercise, we must therefore go out and request additional funding from new sources other than our traditional financial backers, the Namibian Government and the NFA Consortium of Sponsors.”
The soft-spoken and likable medical practitioner warned football administrators against accepting abnormalities as a norm and said players need to be remunerated fairly and on time.
“Budgets need to be prepared on time and presented to our stakeholders in an accountable and transparent manner, detailing all the elements in order to avoid unnecessary suspicion,” said Amutenya to loud applause from the floor.