Pieces Damaseb, the Dead Ball Specialist

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Inside the Age

Modern footballers certainly lack that special knack of hitting the target regularly from set pieces – much to the annoyance of some of the country’s football greats of the past and amongst those who are not exactly impressed by the current state of affairs is none other than “dead ball specialist” Daniel “Pieces” Damaseb from Chelsea fame.

Pieces packed dynamite in his right foot and here he takes us through an illustrious football career that was besieged by what he terms well orchestrated injustices that robbed Chelsea from winning the country’s most sought-after silverware, the Mainstay Cup when referee Arnolf Schmidt awarded a hotly disputed penalty to Black Africa with Chelsea firmly in the driving seat, with few minutes remaining on the clock.

The gigantic midfielder talks about the day when Chelsea was ordered to restart their semifinal match against Chief Santos thrice in a Knock-Out Tournament in the copper town as the referee would find all sort of excuses to disrupt the match whenever the boys from Grootfontein had taken the lead – much to the delight of the organizers.

“I was very angry and frustrated at the injustices meted out to us on that particular day and by the time we were awarded a free kick from an inviting position on the edge of the box, I hit the ball with such ferocity that the Santos goalkeeper, the late Khais Booysen found himself strangled in the back of the net with ball and everything as he tried in vain to stop the ball from reaching its intended destination.”

By Carlos Kambaekwa

WINDHOEK

Pieces is the first born in the family of three brothers, Thomas and Joseph better known as “Zulu” in social circles with the latter having predeceased him in 2000.

Born in Grootfontein on the 7th of December 1956, Pieces started chasing leather at the age of 13 at school level with other youngsters who went onto become established footballers such as Elvis Tsanteb, Curtus Bam, Poriro Nganjone, Reinhard “Tiger” and Eric “Richo” Francis, Rudolph “Ruru” Naobeb and Save Ochurub.

Pieces’ tuition years as a footballer started with Protea Football Club, a team consisting of the legendary Anton “Orlando” Damaseb, Albertus and Theodor Spiegel, Bruno Somseb, Benzel Khotiseb, Gothard Ugelvi, and Gabriel Schuster amongst a crop of talented youngsters from the neigbourhood.

“Protea used to be a very talented team and we mainly played in the Mielie Triangle, Grootfontein, Otavi, Tsumeb and Otjiwarongo against teams like Poison Arrows, Chief Santos, Benfica, Red Bees, Life Fighters and African Stars from Otavi”.

The team underwent a facelift and changed its name to Goal Hunters at the insistence of the late teacher Engelhard Gariseb, who reinforced the playing personnel with other talented players led by agile goalkeeper Titus Gariseb, Lobo Damaseb, Stanislow Uwu-Khaeb and Kid Noabeb.

“In those days Orlando Damaseb was an exceptional footballer and had very little peers on the field of play,” recalls Pieces with tongue in cheek.
Pieces briefly left Goal Hunters and teamed up with Cosmos “Indies” Damaseb, the late Dr Peter “Pele” Damaseb, Jebron Gotiseb and Hendrik “Suruthe” Haobeb in the star-studded Spurs lineup. “Spurs were a very competitive team and had great players like the Poolman brothers Malaka and Lourentius.”

The club halted the dominance of both Chelsea and Poison Arrows and the rivalry between Spurs and Chelsea intensified to such proportions that it brought animosity between family members and it needed swift intervention from the elders to restore peace.

Spurs was inevitably disbanded and the bulk of the players rejoined Hunters who have in the meantime changed their name to Chelsea after Orlando Damaseb proposed the name change.

“This time around, we recruited other players such as Tuso Horaseb, Festus Tsanteb, Lazarus “Lazza” Auchumeb, Maxi Newman, Dave “Okatenda Kozombandje” Ameb and Elias Castanova, an Angolan refugee who brought a new dimension to the game with his direct approach coupled with an unbelievable work rate.”

Chelsea announced its arrival by dominating Northern football for eight solid years that saw the likes of Chief Santos, Life Fighters, Pubs, Robber Chanties, Black Marocco Chiefs (BMC) Benfica, Cuca Tops and Rundu Chiefs all having to play second fiddle in most competitions.

The team’s sudden upsurge in domestic football was not only confined to the Northern part of the country, but soon spiralled over to the capital where the traditional big four – African Stars, Black Africa, Orlando Pirates and Tigers – took note of the emergence of this exciting lineup.

Chelsea enjoyed great success during the eighties but as has proven in many major leagues all over the World – every football club has a hoodoo team and Pieces does not cherish his countless encounters with Katutura based Hungry Lions Football Club.

“Do I really need to remind you, you should know better, that team used to be very troublesome whenever they played against us and we always ended on the receiving end in many of our clashes, they even beat us on our own home turf – which used to be the graveyard for many visiting teams in those days.”

Down at sea level, the likes of Blue Waters, Eleven Arrows, Namib Woestyn, Explorer Eleven, United Stars and African Wanderers also felt the wrath of Chelsea.

“We were unstoppable and reached dozens of cup finals all over the country – winning quite a few and losing some in very controversial fashion. One tournament that crosses the mind was in Tsumeb in the annual Top-16 Easter Tournament where we played Chief Santos in the semifinal.

“That match was re-started three times because each and every time we took the lead the referee would resort to all sorts of tricks in the book of tricks to disrupt our rhythm – thus giving the organizers some room to manoeuvre a restart, but we still emerged 3-1 victors after the marathon match.”

Santos had a formidable team that included Celle Ochurub, Steps Nickel, Mannetjie Neidel, Benzel Gontiseb, Frans Ochurub, Issaskar Gaoseb and Stanislow “Kapapi” Oxurub.

The exhausted Chelsea team went on to lose badly against the Pius “Garrincha” Eigowab led Black Africa outfit in the final by 4 goals to 1.

“There was no way we could compete against Black Africa on that day after our marathon semifinal match against Chief Santos. They (BA) only played in the morning where they hammered Rundu Chiefs 7-1 and enjoyed a good rest before facing us in the final.”

However, Chelsea got their revenge when the two teams met again in the final of another knock-out competition at the same venue a month later, with Pieces once again on the score sheet with one of his trademark free kicks in a 5 – 2 win. Orlando scored a brace while the Francis brothers Tiger and Richo scored a goal apiece to complete the riot.

Chelsea reached the 1982 Mainstay Cup final and booked another confrontation with Black Africa for the umpteenth time.

The match was played in front of a packed to rafters Showgrounds stadium in Windhoek, next to Maerua Park, and Chelsea found themselves in the driving seat and looked poised for a historic win until referee Arnolf Schmidt fell prey to young Steven “Falcao” Hochobeb’s dive in the penalty box.

The ageing match official pointed to the spot amidst heavy protest from the entire Chelsea team and Africa equalized from the resultant penalty (2-2) to take the match into extra time. More drama was to follow when Lucky Boonstander popped up out of the blue to propel the ball with the now famous Maradona “Hand of God” for the winning goal.

“We always found ourselves at the mercy of dodgy decisions by match officials but had to roll with the punches seeing that we were not from the apparent Mecca of football Windhoek. Nevertheless, we dusted ourselves off and went on to beat African Stars 3 -1 in the semifinal of another tournament in Tsumeb after the Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo team had just won the Mainstay final in 1984.”

Chelsea defeated BMC by 6 goals to 1 in the final with Pieces once again amongst the goal scorers with another trademark free-kick.

Pieces’ exploits on the football pitch did not go unnoticed and the dead ball specialist was rewarded with a call up to the South West Africa Squad for the Provincial Currie Cup competition in Durban, South Africa in 1982.

“We could have won that tournament had it not been for the late withdrawal of the African Stars pair of Albert “Hoonjo” Tjihero and Asaria “Ndjiva” Kauami through an assortment of injuries. We were only eliminated from the tournament because of our inferior goal difference after drawing 1-all with Border, who pipped us on goal difference for the final spot.”

The team consisted of Benjamin “Kleintjie” Gaseb, Mentos Hipondoka, Rusten Mogane, Hendrik “Doc” Hadley, Hans “Alu” Hummel, Brian Greeves, George Gariseb, Siegfried “Dale” Stephanus, George “Bandike” Ochurub, Anton “Orlando” Damaseb, Eric “Richo” Francis, Licky Gideon and Heinrich “Eusobio” Kandjii, with teacher Willem Hans as Coach.

Pieces bemoans the lack of urgency amongst the current crop of footballers and calls on football authorities to rejuvenate regional representatives as this practice has the potential of producing raw talent.

“The North used to be the main feeder of the national team but the dismantling of regional leagues has weakened our football big time.” He also takes a swipe at modern players whom he accuses of not showing any respect for the national jersey.

The 51-year old Pieces pleads with the country’s football authorities to swallow their pride and start making use of expertise from former footballers.

“I’m sure a guy like Donny Renzke is capable of teaching our misfiring strikers a trick or two about goal scoring, but a good chunk of former footballers have turned their back on the game because of the NFA’s negative attitude.”

Pieces extends a vote of thanks to his late uncle and Eleven Arrows icon Gabriel “Gabes” Mupupa on whom he modelled his game as a youngster and could not heap enough praises for his childhood hero and former Poison Cobra schemer Eliphas Sabbatha, the first ever local footballer to turn professional when he signed up with Vaal Professionals in 1969.

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