NPL clubs threaten to shun Debmarine Cup… want serious answers

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WINDHOEK, 18 October 2015 - Action between Black Africa Football Club midfielder Muna Katupose (L) and Knowledge Mutyoraringa of Tigers (R) during Round Nine of the 2015/16 Namibia Premier League at the Sam Nujoma Stadium. (Photo by: Hesron Kapanga) NAMPA

Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-The round of 32 of the inaugural edition of the Debmarine Namibia Cup is in serious jeopardy after clubs plying their trade in the financially spineless Namibia Premier League (NPL) threatened not to honour their fixtures.

As is customary with the football association cup, the elimination rounds of the Debmarine Namibia Cup for the first and second divisions teams started early this month and while other stream divisions have already completed their elimination round fixtures, others are expected to conclude this weekend.

Once the elimination round fixtures are concluded in the various remaining stream divisions, action will then move to the round of 32, which will include all 16 NPL clubs and the various regional winners that progressed from the elimination phrase. The round of 32 games are expected to take place in April.

But whether or not the round of 32 of the Debmarine Cup will be an ebullient affair remains to be seen as most clubs in the country’s flagship NPL have threatened not to participate in the Debmarine Cup if activities in the beleaguered NPL remain quiescent.

According to the majority of clubs that spoke to New Era Sport yesterday, they will only partake in the Debmarine Cup on one condition – and that is only if premiership club football in the country is up and running.

In a voice of solidarity, they said their position, as far as their participation in the Debmarine Cup is concerned, will not be compromised and their decision will further be made clear to the NPL leadership at this weekend’s extraordinary congress – where clubs will demand a final answer from NPL chairman Johnny ‘JJD’ Doeseb and his management team on the way forward for the league.

First to put it on record was Blue Waters’ outspoken manager Tostao Imbili, who made it clear that the coastal giants will not participate in the Debmarine Cup in the absence of a fully functioning premier league, as that would put a financial burden on them.

“Look my brother, we need players in order to participate in the Debmarine Cup, and that means we have to contract players in order to have a team. But the question is that if we the clubs offer these players contracts, ranging from one to two years or even more, who is going to honour those contracts beyond the Debmarine Cup? It will obviously be us the clubs – and we are saying in the absence of the league we can’t take such a risk because we will have serious financial problems with those pending contracts once the Debmarine Cup is over. So until the league starts, sorry with that Debmarine Cup of theirs,” said a seething Imbili.

NPL reigning champions Tigers’ spokesperson Hafeni Hiveluah said playing the Debmarine Cup in the absence of the league does not make sense, because it’s not only about participating but it’s more about the players’ contracts and the financial stability of the clubs – hence their decision to boycott the Debmarine Cup until a concrete announcement on the commencement of the league is made.

Also trotting in the same alley was Citizens Football Club (FC) chairman Dawid Goagoseb, who said the embargo on participating in the Debmarine Cup by NPL clubs was the common position of most teams.

“That is definitely our position as well. I mean what is the use of us participating in the Debmarine Cup if our other 15 colleagues are not participating! So as far as the Debmarine Cup is concerned, we will not play until we have a clear direction as to where we stand with the league. As clubs we are in no position to offer players contracts in the absence of a functioning league – which would be a huge risk,” said an unwavering Goagoseb.

Further surveying by New Era Sport brought to the fore that almost all 16 NPL clubs are in solidarity as far as boycotting the Debmarine Cup is concerned, with most demanding that Doeseb and members of the league’s management committee should honestly and clearly pronounce themselves on the future of premiership football in the country at this weekend’s extraordinary congress.

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