By Carlos Kambaekwa
Hopes were high, the fever hit its peak, matches were played, some had lost and won and so this afternoon will mark the time for one of the four hopefuls in the ongoing Four Nations under-17 tourney to lift the coveted trophy.
Of course, hundreds of football fans in and around the coastal capital Walvis Bay and rightly so, will have their hopes pinned on Namibia’s under-17 team to come out unscathed in their penultimate final match against the strong visiting Westphalia from Germany.
The hosts came back from behind twice and were on the brink of kissing goodbye to the 5-day youth competition when a late flurry of goals kept their chances alive for a place in the final.
On Tuesday, Willem Kapukare’s young brigade was held to a 2-all draw by the visiting Westphalia regional outfit in a dress rehearsal for today’s final.
With the teams having taken a breather yesterday, Kapukare is confident his charges had sufficient time to recover from fatigue whilst he is hopeful some of the boys will also be able to shake off an assortment of minor injuries ahead of tonight’s encounter against the more composed Germans.
Goalkeeper Collin Ndjai should recover in time to take his place between the sticks while twin strikers Benson Shilongo and Sam Kavezembi, as well as midfielder Sylvester Ortmann, are on the treatment table and face a late fitness test, but the coach is optimistic the players will be given the thumbs up by the team’s medical experts – come match time.
Defender Mendu “Jabulani” Tjongarero is a definite non-starter after the tough as steak left back sustained a serious injury in Namibia’s second match against South Africa on Monday.
“Don’t make a mistake, Westphalia are a very good side with great tactical and technical awareness and know how to play as a team, because those youngsters have been together for many years in their regional youth structures and need to be shown some respect for that matter,” warned Kapukare.
“Nevertheless, we have studied their game plan thoroughly and strongly believe we have what it takes to contain them as long as my boys stick to their game plan – if we can keep the ball on the ground and attack them with speed, I’m almost certain we will come out triumphant.”
The Namibian second strings play in the curtain-raiser against South Africa for the bronze medal later today at the Kuisebmond Stadium (kick off 16h00).