Bragging rights will be at stake when two of Namibia’s bitter rivals, Tigers and African Stars, lock horns in Windhoek on Saturday in the semifinal of the annual four-team mini tourney, the coveted Dr Hage Geingob Cup.
There is little love lost between the Katutura giants, whose famous rivalry dates back to the Old Location’s gravel Bantu football field in the 1950’s – stretching up to the present day.
It’s a well-documented secret that Ingwe, as Tigers are affectionately known amongst their ardent followers, enjoyed the upper hand in most of their encounters back in the day.
However, that trend changed dramatically in the intervening years, with the Reds wrestling power from their eternal rivals.
After suffering the indignity of having to live in the shadow of their bitter rivals over the last couple of decades, including the onset of Namibia’s post-colonial democracy – Tigers have awakened from their slumber and reclaimed bragging rights in astonishing style to be crowned the undisputed Namibian champions.
The two teams will this weekend go toe to toe in the first semifinal at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium, in what is expected to be an intriguing affair, where no quarter will be asked or given.
Under the shrewd stewardship of wily coach Brian ‘Ou Baas’ Isaacs, the Donkerhoek squad is currently riding the crest of the wave and are firm favourites to come out tops.
However, with a place in the final in view and the prospect of facing either defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, or Soweto giants Orlando Pirates in the final, both teams will be eager to put up a great display in front of an expected large crowd.
Tigers inspirational playmaker and skipper Abes Iimbondi is in the best form of his blossoming football career and could single-handedly swing the result in his team’s favour if left unchecked by the ageing Reds’ rearguard.
On the other hand, Stars will rely heavily on the vast experience of former Tigers mentor Bobby Samaria, who will be calling instructions from the Reds’ dugout.
The rivalry is not only restricted to the local teams. Both South African visitors, Sundowns and Pirates, still have some unfinished business and although the Pretoria-based outfit are hot favourites to retain the trophy, which they successfully defended last year, having won the inaugural edition in 2014.
Pitso ‘Jingles’ Mosimane’s charges are likely to field new signing Sibusizo ‘Villa’ Vilakhazi, recently lured from Bidvest Wits University.
Meanwhile, the Ghosts are still licking their wounds, following an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at the hands of old foes Kaizer Chiefs in the season’s pipe opener, the Black Label Carling Cup in Johannesburg last weekend and will be out to salvage some lost pride.