By Confidence Musariri
Attention is slowly shifting to the Under 17 Youth League in Windhoek which now goes into its knock-out phase, after an exciting first half of the season which was played on a league format.
The Youth League will be played on a head-to-head format at the John ya Otto Nankudhu Stadium in Wanaheda from Saturday to Sunday.
“We are now entering the second half of our season and we are now changing the players from a league format because we want the junior players to get accustomed to playing in knock-out phases, which is the norm in modern-day football, especially in the premiership,” said organizer and national U/17 team manager, Jacks Amaning.
Teams affiliated with the top premiership clubs such as Orlando Pirates, Tigers, Ramblers and SKW have been dominating the league phase in the first 11 games and will now be tested on their strength.
The Tigers Under 17 team faces S’Bala, a Shandumbala outfit that is famed for dehorning top sides in the youth league.
The encounter is equal to a Pirates/Black Africa derby, says Amaning, as most of the players know each other from school and from the community.
The loser of the knockout phase will be axed from the league while the winner will proceed to the semi-finals.
“The tricky part is that the games are only an hour long and these youngsters seem to have a knack of scoring first and then defending for 45 minutes, which is equal to a full half of a premiership game,” Amaning said.
Ramblers, led by the league’s top goal scorer Stanley Geingob, will be playing the Patrick Iyambo Academy while the best player in the league so far, Sidney Urikhos, will lead his Orlando Pirates side against NYFDP.
Urikhos has scored 13 goals so far.
African Stars have the highest number of players playing in the top-flight league. Stars meet Ongete on Sunday where they are favourites, while premier league players John Novendi and Ikwa Tjozongoro are expected to shine.
The Collin Benjamin Academy has also stood its ground in the league and will meet Star Boy, while Congo Hindjou’s Khomasdal Football Academy plays Okahandja Park in another potential thriller.
The Under 17 League has 70 percent of players making the national Under 17 team. Top premier league players such as Wallace Mosiane (Black Africa);
Raymond Soroseb (Orlando Pirates) and the Civics duo of Nelson Angula and Elsin Kamuhanga are all products of the Youth League.