Congo’s journey on road to stardom

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Okahandja

Johannes ‘Congo’ Hindjou was born at a small commercial farm, simply known as Ombu jo Tjimbari, (Otjombali) on November 11, 1976.

The mountainous farmstead has since changed ownership and is now the sole property of northern business mogul Benny “Boone” Zaaruka, situated approximately 26 kilometres, north-east of Okahandja.
Like many of his peers growing up in the dusty streets of Nau-Aib location, Congo was hooked to the beautiful game at a very young age but unfortunately, the brother would be restricted to man the sticks in the popular stakes games, as a result of his small frame.

“You know in those days, the bigger boys never wanted to play in goals and since I was quite small in stature – I was always ordered to play in goals much to my dislike but I had no choice since I also wanted to get involved,” reveals Jakkals with a shy smile.

Among his many teammates were: Elias Kukuri, Chicken Kaengurova, Erastus Kapolo, Mistake Kahuikee and Keni-Kenii Kairikove – all boys who were to become his teammates in later years at Aurora Primary School.
Although there was a predominantly Otjiherero-speaking team going by the name of Morrocco City Stars in the township, Congo and his buddies could not break into the first team and resolved to start their own team, which they christened Kaizer Chiefs.

As time went by, he graduated from manning the posts to an attacking midfielder. Congo joined local club Golden Arrows teaming up with Erastus Gariseb, Katze Topp, Chappies Marenga, Dennis Rodia, Festus Owaseb and Tjimbatu Tjihero.

The skinny midfielder quickly established himself as a much sought-after commodity in local football and caught the sharp eye of former Flames, Kaizer Chiefs and African Stars midfield general Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo.
Mengo and the Tjihero brothers persuaded the young midfield sensation to join forces with Okahandja outfit Liverpool FC in 1994 at the tender age of 17, and as they say, the rest is history.

He made his debut in the country’s flagship league against the mighty Blue Waters at the Kuisebmond stadium in Walvis-Bay. The match ended in a 2-all stalemate but Congo announced his arrival with a near faultless display playing a pivotal role by providing both assists for Erastus Gariseb’s brace on that particular day.
In his next match, the slippery midfielder tore apart a disjointed Ramblers defence manned by the then much-feared Brave Warriors skipper Tollie van Wyk.

The rookie midfielder masterminded Liverpool’s win against their much-fancied opponents in a knockout cup tie at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium and went on to torment opposition at will with his vision and killer passes way belying his tender age.

It came as no surprise when he was called up to the struggling Brave Warriors squad under the tutelage of German mentor Peter Uberjahn in 1996 at the age of 19. His first assignment was an AFCON qualifier against Botswana in Gaborone.

The tie ended goalless but it was in the second leg that Congo came to life setting tongues wagging, as he almost single-handedly embarrassed a hapless Zebras defence with deft touches.
The Namibian No. 15 was duly rewarded for his magnificent match man of the match performance with two well-taken goals from the penalty spot that gifted the Warriors a comprehensive 6-0 victory over the clearly out-played and out-thought Zebras.

In the meantime, Congo would enjoy a successful career with Liverpool and blossomed under the mentorship of former Durban Busch Bucks dribbling wizard, Raphael Mlungisi Ngubane, aka Professor.

He won almost everything there was to be won in the domestic league, league title, Castle Classic, Metropolitan and the BP Top 8 Cup – certainly an incredible feat by the slippery football genius.

Congo rose to prominence when he boldly stepped up to dispatch the winning penalty that took Namibia to its first appearance in Africa’s biggest showpiece, the AFCON Cup in Burkina Faso in 1998.

With the match destined for a goalless draw and hosts Gabon needing just that result to remain intact for them to advance to the AFCON finals – the gutsy Warriors were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes of the decisive group match when Gerros Uri-Khob was brought down in the penalty box.

The responsibility was placed on the tiny shoulders of Jakkals to take Namibia to the AFCON finals. He dully obliged and sent the entire Namibian nation in frenzy as he kept his cool to send the intimidating giant Gabonese goalkeeper in the wrong direction. Ironically, while his less-talented teammates in the Brave Warriors squad were snapped up at random by professional clubs beyond Namibian borders, Congo uncharacteristically never managed to reach the promised land of milk and honey, though he had a series of low-key successful trials with a couple of minor teams abroad.

“Eish, it’s very hard to digest what happened to me during those trying times. I once went to England on the recommendation of Jakes Amaning, who placed me with a non-league team Bromy FC, where I stayed for a month.
“Subsequently, I was moved to Belgium finding myself holed up on a farm near Brussels without any training for three solid weeks. I played two exhibition matches and the club was keen to sign me but the offer was not good enough.

“That was the worst experience of my life. I found three Brazilians over there who told me that they have been holed there for three months.”

In 2002, Congo thought his moment had finally arrived when he was invited for trials by PSL outfit Tembisa Classics Black. As fate would dictate, he only featured in exhibition matches while awaiting his work permit.
“I stayed in South Africa for three months earning a decent monthly salary of N$10 000, but by the time the work permit issue was sorted out, I discovered that the club has tempered with the initial agreement inserting a clause that was never there stating that my contract would run for four years instead of the one year, which we have had agreed on.

He parted ways with the club, only to resurface at another PSL side Black Leopards, which was coincidently coached by Gavin Hunt. Unfortunately, the transfer hit a snag after a lengthy dispute of ownership between Leopards and Jomo Cosmos.

“Tembisa Classic were in possession of my work permit while my international clearance was with Cosmos, so I found myself on beams end, so to speak.”

Following a protracted frustrating period in South Africa, Jakkals finally returned home after former Civics’ deep-pocketed boss Helmuth Scharnowsky paid a record domestic transfer of N$70 000 to secure his services from Leopards.

Congo rewarded the Civilians by steering the club to two consecutive league titles, NFA Cup triumph, SWABOU Cup and the Humphries Cup. In 2007, the much-adored midfielder developed itchy feet and joined Katutura glamour football club African Stars but his arrival at the Reds was to be his swansong. He finally bowed out of the game having failed to add any silverware while at the Reds to his stinking rich personal medal haul.

Jakkals retreated to his hometown to take up the coaching reins at local club Spoilers FC. He steered the blue-and-white stripped outfit to promotion into the national first division and narrowly lost out to Tura Magic for promotion to the elite league the following season.

He moved up a notch when he was appointed assistant coach to former Brave Warriors teammate Ronnie Kanalelo at MTC Premiership campaigners Eleven Arrows in 2009. Congo’s magic touch rubbed off on his subordinates, as Arrows won the coveted leo Cup the following season.

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