By Carlos Kambaekwa
Civics’ mentor Helmuth Scharnowsky has expressed concern over the mental fitness of his players in the Brave Warriors squad ahead of his team’s eagerly awaited clash against African Stars in the final of the annual MTC NFA Cup, at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium on Saturday.
The Civilians will be facing their hoodoo team without the comfort of proper preparation after the bulk of their playing personnel were included in the Brave Warriors’ ill-fated marathon campaign in the 2010 FIFA World Cup preliminaries and CAF African Nations Cup qualifiers.
To compound matters, the Khomasdal based outfit will be minus the suspended pair of overlapping defender Zedecias Haukambe and promising winger Enslin “Lovers” Kamuhanga .
The duo received their marching orders in the highly charged semi-final clash against cross-town rivals Oshikandela Ramblers, which the Civilians eventually won on penalties despite being on the ropes for the better part and finishing the match with nine men.
However, Scharnowsky is confident the team will march despite all the hiccups but the no-nonsense owner-cum-coach and football administrator pulled no punches as he blasted his players for making silly mistakes at the slightest provocation.
“Both sending-offs were uncalled for and they (Zedecias and Lovers) must pay the price and miss out on this glorious occasion as a result of their indiscretion.”
Scharnowsky praised coach Ricardo “Bucksy” Mannetti for keeping the ship afloat despite all odds stacked against them.
“Ricardo is doing a very good job – the players are very fit and raring to go but my biggest worry is the mental fitness of our players returning from national duty only after last weekend’s defeat against Guinea. It would certainly take a Herculean act to motivate players after such a heavy loss.”
The Stars’ camp is upbeat and the team’s Zimbabwean coach Gilbert Rwasoka remains unmoved and believes his charges have what it takes to defend their title with some measure of pride.
“If they (Civics) could win the league title on successive occasions, what would stop them from retaining the cup? No offence to our opponents – they have a very good team and 90 per cent of the Brave Warriors squad is composed of players from Civics, which makes them a dangerous combination.”
Rwasoka will be leading the Reds to their fourth final since taking over the reins in 2005/2006 – boasting only one victory when Stars defied all odds to beat Orlando Pirates in the final of the same competition, last year.
Stars lost to Blue Waters in the 2005/2006 FNB Christmas Cup final at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek and went on to lose against Civics in the final of the same competition the following season. Ironically, all three finals ended in penalty shootouts.
The Reds are injury free with second choice goalkeeper Escerol “Packey” Kongoro the only staff member currently on the treatment table after picking up a knock in last weekend’s drawn match against Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) in an MTC Namibia Premier League clash.
Both camps have promised an exciting match and urged football lovers to come out in large numbers and witness 90 minutes of entertaining football.
To spice up the mood and add colour to the grand finale, the finalists each received brand new sets of playing gear and tracksuits from the sponsors MTC.