By Carlos Kambaekwa
Greed and desire to win at all costs have been described as the chief culprits hampering the development of African football.
These were the harsh words of Serame Letsoaka, coach of the visiting South African Under-20 football team “Amatjitas” at a press briefing upon the team’s arrival at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek yesterday for their international friendly against their Namibian counterparts.
The teams will fight it out for the Namibian Newspaper Challenge Trophy tomorrow afternoon at 15h00 at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura.
“Most coaches in the youth setups want to take short cuts and would resort to every trick to beef up their CV’s, even if they have to wangle players’ birth certificates by twisting the player’s real age in order to win, but this exercise should be discouraged as it can potentially stall continuity” charged Letsoaka.
Both countries will use the match as preparation for their participation in the qualifiers for the African Youth Cup finals scheduled for Rwanda, next year.
“When we accepted the invitation to engage Namibia in a friendly, we were unaware that we will meet them in the qualifying rounds, but it looks like we are going to be in the same group in the qualifiers, but if that is the case then let it be, because we are building a team for the 2012 Olympics in London.”
Letsoaka applauded the Namibian Football Association for its efforts in promoting the development of youth football and said: “If one looks at our West African counterparts, their standard at youth level is up there because of regular competition amongst each other – a situation mainly aided by the close proximity and geographic layout of these countries.”
He said it would be good if the Southern African region is properly represented at youth competitions, as it will strengthen the standard of football in the region.
The South Africans brought a formidable outfit to Namibia, boasting 70% of players who are attached to top professional clubs in Africa’s richest football league, the Professional Soccer League.
The new-look Amatjitas will be captained by Ramahle Mphahle, a teammate of the Namibian pair of George Hummel and Mohammed Ouseb at Morocco Swallows in the PSL.
The Acting Secretary-General of the Namibian Football Association Barry Rukoro said the match is a fraction of the memorandum of understanding signed by the neigbouring countries on joint projects leading to the 2010 World Cup finals, to be hosted by South Africa.
“You might recall that the South African Football Association has been utilizing the services of our referees since FIFA accredited Mathew Katjimune handled the historic final of the Vodacom Challenge cup between South Africa’s Orlando Pirates and English Premiership giants Tottenham Hotspurs last year.”
There might be lots of similarities between the two sister countries off the playing field, but there is very little love lost on the playing field with Namibia always living up to the occasion whenever the situation demands, and tomorrow’s clash should be no exception to this rule with Bobby Samaria’s young brigade hot favourites to send their more fancied opponents packing with their tails firmly tucked between the legs.