By Carlos Kambaekwa
Tough as steak Brave Warriors’ defender Hartman Toromba might be fighting a losing battle against relegation with his current employers Black Leopards, but the admirable former Black Africa hard man should not have any sleepless nights over his next destination.
Ali Akan, coach of the victorious Football Club Aziz Kara (FC AK), recently crowned champions of one of the South African 2nd tier divisions, the Inland Stream League, made no secret about his admiration for the no-nonsense defender.
The 48-year old mentor admitted in an exclusive interview with New Era Sports yesterday, that Toromba remains top priority on his wish list, should the Eldorado based team gain promotion to the South African Professional Soccer League (PSL) next season.
Akan steered FC A.K to a remarkable triumph in the Inland Stream in only his debut season in the paid ranks with a little bit of help from his “adopted home boys”.
FC AK boasts no fewer than six Namibians on their books with Costa Kheiseb the club’s leading goal scorer with eight goals and eleven ‘assists’ to his credit.
The remaining quartet are defender Ivan Namaseb, winger Freedom Puriza, midfielders Rudie Louw and Dumisa Jantze while goal keeper Arnold Subeb is waiting in the wings after signing a pre-contract with the ambitious club.
FC AK will have to battle it out with Coastal Stream winners Maritzburg United in a two-legged encounter on the 3rd of next month, with the winners earning automatic promotion to the South African elite league (PSL), next season.
The runner-up will get a second chance as they go into the hat alongside the two runners-up from the respective streams including the 15th placed team in the PSL for the last qualifying berth.
“We don’t want to be part of the second playoff and would dearly like to finish the job in the first playoff against United, because being involved in the second playoff will diminish the morale of the players and might prove a costly exercise in the end.”
Despite the fact that they have to overcome United before thinking about life in the PSL next season, a clearly defiant Akan believes his team has one foot already on the PSL – come hell or high water.
“We have assembled a very good squad with a mixture of quality experienced and young footballers who are hungry for success and I really don’t see any reason why we should have any business with the Mvela Golden League next season.”
Asked about the club’s pending disciplinary case which resulted from serious allegations of attempted match fixing, after Witbank Aces’ veteran goalkeeper Michel Babale claimed that he was offered a large sum of money to throw a league match against FC AK – Akan pleaded ignorance on the damning accusations:
“Look, we have been officially informed by the PSL about our playoff against Coastal Stream winners Maritzburg United.
“We told our players to remain focussed and concentrate on the huge task lying ahead and not allow themselves to be distracted by negative media reports and leave the politics in the hands of administrators.”
And while Toromba is on the top list of expected new arrivals next season – the club has identified seven other players led by a highly recommended Cameroon Under-23 midfielder and a striker who plies his trade with the reserves of Brazilian outfit Corinthians.
Akan is also eyeing Civics and Brave Warriors’ versatile left winger Jamunovandu Ngatjizeko to bolster his squad during the coming campaign – bringing the number of the Namibian contingent at the Johannesburg club to seven.
“Arsene Wenger has been signing the bulk of his playing personnel from his native country France, and has been successful, so what is wrong with me bringing in players from my second home Namibia,” boasts the former Kurdish national, now a naturalized Namibian.