WINDHOEK – Just a few seasons ago, discarded Brave Warriors strikers Jerome Louis and Benson Shilongo were both deemed past their best in domestic football appearing destined for the dustbin of has-beens – only for the pair to resurface with a measure of distinction in the highly competitive and more lucrative Botswana football league.
Both strikers, discarded by the Warriors technical staff as surplus to requirement have resurrected their careers in breath-taking fashion, thus erasing the misplaced perception that their football career was destined for stray dogs.
As it stands, the two Namibians are hot property in Botswana – dishing out goal-scoring virtuosity never seen in that neck of the woods before for their respective teams Township Rollers and Gaborone United football clubs – much to the chagrin of their detractors.
Shilongo, joined United in the middle of last season but the skilful afro-haired lethal goal poacher has fitted in like a glove in hand with his new teammates and currently ranks among the finest goal scorers in the league.
The former Ramblers and Tigers target man has so far netted five times in eight starts since the start of the current term – certainly no mean feat for a player who was restricted to a cameo role at his former club Tigers before his departure despite his enormous talent.
On Sunday, the in-form Oshakati City protégé, who seemed to have found a new lease of life in his adopted environment, registered his name on the score sheet for the umpteenth time.
The well-spoken mild-mannered dribbling wizard and lethal goal poacher popped up to score the decisive winning goal in the semi-final of the lucrative Mascom Top 8 Cup of his club’s 1-0 win over NICO United FC to set up a mouth-watering final against Jerome Louis’ Township Rollers.
“To be quite honest, I must confess I have been taken by surprise by my own form and have settled in well with the style of play here. I know exactly what is expected from me and my teammates understand my game thus making things very easy for me to score goals because they are playing to my strengths,” enthuses Shilongo.
Shilongo, who wears the internationally sacred No 9 jersey for United, is the proud incumbent top joint goal-scorer alongside compatriot Louis in the Mascom Top 8 Cup with four goals apiece.
In the other semi-final, the “Crocodile” (Louis) was not to be outdone either and struck once to propel Rollers to the final in the hard-fought 2-1 win over the much-fancied Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
Virgil Vries maturing like old wine
Elsewhere in the South African Professional Soccer League (PSL), Namibian gloves man Virgil Vries continues to make waves with his safe pair of hands through his breath-taking antics between the sticks for his PSL outfit Maritzburg United.
The much-improved dreadlocked shot-stopper followed his astonishing man-of-the-match performance in the mid-week 1-0 win against PSL log-leaders Kaizer Chiefs with another eye-catching display in United’s 2-1 triumph over Platinum Stars last weekend.
Meanwhile, the trio of African Stars exports, Max “Slimkat” Mbaeva, Deon Hotto and Chris Katjiukua are on the rampage in the highly competitive National First Division (NDF), South Africa’s second tier division – featuring for Lamontville Golden Arrows where the much-adored late Doc Hardley reigned supreme. The coastal outfit tops the log standings and looks poised for a quick return to the top tier league.