By Carlos Kambaekwa
The Mariental Showgrounds will be a hive of activities this weekend when the country’s oldest and richest tournament, the MTC NFA Cup, shifts to the southern town tomorrow.
Former Cup Kings in domestic football Black Africa continue their assault in the lucrative competition with a date against Cymot Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) in the first of four quarterfinal matches scheduled for Mariental this weekend.
Defending champions African Stars, still licking their wounds following last weekend’s humiliating defeat at the hands of Orlando Pirates in a Namibia Premiership outing, will by all accounts have something to prove to their diehard supporters when they confront lower division campaigners Hotspurs in the second semifinal match.
The Reds will be better advised to underestimate the lower division outfit at their own peril after the Donkerhoek-based outfit bundled out Premiership side APS Blue Waters in the last 16 of the competition.
On Sunday, Tigers will certainly have a score to settle with Oshikandela Ramblers and will be out to avenge their back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Tunchel Street Boys earlier this season.
The Shandumbala Boys found themselves at the receiving end when Rammies derailed their aspirations in the knockout stages of the FNB Christmas Cup which Ramblers went on to win convincingly.
Tigers surrendered a two-goal lead in their first round league match against the Pionierspark-based outfit before losing 3-2, and to compound matters, the spine of the team crossed the floor and joined Ramblers at the beginning of the season.
The quartet, Nelson “Dicky” Akwenye, Jeremiah “Bullfrog” Baisako, Pineas “Heel Extension” Jacobs and Manne Martins has contributed largely to Ramblers’ upsurge this season, while their departure has to a certain extent weakened the Shandumbala-based outfit.
Despite going into the match as underdogs, Tigers can take solace from the fact that their opponents have also been struggling to display the kind of form that made them a fierce combination at the beginning of the season, following an indifferent performance of late.
Dawid Snewe’s Mighty Gunners have certainly come of age if their faultless showing against Eleven Arrows and Ramblers in their last two matches is anything to go by.
The men in uniform boast a cup pedigree which cannot be taken lightly after claiming the scalps of Black Africa at the same stage of this particular competition last time around, and Civics will be well aware of that when the two teams complete the weekend’s quarterfinals on Sunday.
After a shaky start to their league campaign this season, the Civilians appeared to have rediscovered their form – recording a couple of wins on the trot but their fairytale revival was brought to a premature halt by Oshakati City in a league match a fortnight ago.
However, Ricardo Mannetti’s charges dusted themselves off and responded in the most dignified fashion with a fine win over Black Africa in a midweek NPL league match last week.
All quarterfinal participants received a full playing gear from the sponsors MTC, at a special function held at Soccer House in Windhoek yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Namibian Football Association’s Disciplinary Committee handed a fine of N$2 000 to Lidmey Khabeb of Deportivo Alaves, after the volatile player assaulted referee Reinold Shikongo during Alaves’ ill-fated match against Ramblers in the opening round of the MTC NFA Cup at Keetmanshoop, earlier this year.
Failure to settle the fine will result in the player being suspended from all football activities under the auspices of the NFA for a period of two years.