When the Egyptian football team set the tone for a record-breaking sixth title with a resounding 4-2 victory over an ageing Cameroonian outfit in their opening group match, very few football pundits were convinced the Pharaohs would go all the way and hold on to the coveted continental title they have won a record five times.
What makes Egypt’s success more remarkable is the fact that the feat was achieved with average footballers who strut their stuff in the domestic football league with only two foreign-based players in the starting lineup when the boys from the Nile easily brushed aside the star-studded Cameroon side in the final.
It should be remembered the Egyptian coach is a home-grown boy and a former national team player himself – a chap who knows the inner doings of domestic football.
I can recall a rare conversation I had with the President of the Namibian Football Association in Accra when we discussed the way forward for Namibian football and the lessons learned from the Brave Warriors’ short-lived campaign in the just ended 26th edition of the African Cup of Nations in Ghana.
The brother made a very good point and undertook to put his ducks in the row by making damn sure the domestic elite league gets on par with the rest of the continent with the inevitable introduction of a semi-professional league.
In all fairness, the Namibian Football Association must be given a pat on the back for its tireless efforts by using football as a unifying tool, but this dream will never be realized until such time that teams reorganize themselves and start moving towards the direction of professionalism.
I’m saying it and I will put it in writing that yours truly is not ashamed to reveal his unquenchable admiration for football administrators of yesteryear and the names of Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo and Rudolph Jacobs always spring to mind whenever I wish to roll back the good old days.
Who would ever forget that fateful day way back in 1995 when Mengo twisted the arms of respected football administrators to form a breakaway eight team National League which consisted of African Stars, Black Africa, Orlando Pirates, Tigers, Benfica, Chief Santos, Blue Waters and Eleven Arrows – the cream of Namibian football by then.
The move was not appreciated by the football authorities and the “troublesome” clubs were even barred from playing at their traditional ground – the old Katutura Stadium, to be renamed the Sam Nujoma Stadium in later years.
And to compound matters, those plying their trade in the newly-formed breakaway league were deemed ineligible for national team selection – leading to many promising players missing the opportunity to represent their native country in the prestigious annual Provincial Currie Cup and Impala tournaments in South Africa, but in the final analysis perseverance prevailed and the current state of domestic football can be easily attributed the vision of Silver Fox and company.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for a breakaway league, all I’m saying is that clubs should take the initiative towards the establishment of a semi professional league and not just sit arms folded and wait for manna to fall from heaven.
NSC Puts Her Foot Down
So, the National Sports Commission (NSC) finally came of age or so I’m led to believe – well it’s still early days and everything remains to be seen.
The Commission held a retreat last weekend and resolved to amongst others climb heavily down on people defacing the national emblem with national tracksuits being worn at random by people who have never set foot on a sports field before.
Is it perhaps not time for some umbrella bodies and associations to start acknowledging their limitations and shortcomings instead of trying to pass the buck when it should have stopped right on their doorstep.
How does one explain a situation where some sports bodies just go around and attire themselves in national colours without seeking approval from the supreme body of sport?
It’s quite heartening to notice a newspaper vendor going about his daily business fully kitted out in a national jukskei or waterski tracksuit that has seen its good days – judging from the grease around the collar.
NFA Directorate a Law Unto Themselves
Yours truly was not entirely surprised when Invincible Football Club was omitted from the 32 teams to participate in this year’s lucrative MTC NFA Knock-Out Cup Competition.
If one takes a closer look at the criteria and format used to determine the participants then yours truly is within his rights to believe Invincible Football should have been amongst the 32 entrants.
It is a well-documented secret that Invincible FC has been relegated to Namibia’s third tier division by virtue of their alleged involvement in match fixing but alas what have their relegation got to do with their league position last season?
If that forms the basis of their omission from participating in Namibia’s richest tournament – what about Golden Bees and Friends who have also been relegated and why did Invincible receive their prize money for finishing third in the Southern Stream Division One league.
Relegation is just that, never mind the method in which a team goes down because the NFA Disciplinary Committee in passing judgment never referred to the deduction of points, and the result of that particular match in question was never overturned. The final log standings bear testimony to my argument.
I rest my case, at least for the time being.