Youngsters crowned Harders Cup champions

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Otniel Hembapu

Lüderitz-Much traveled striker Eusebio Fredericks, who had previous stints with the Namibia Premiership giants Civics, Ramblers and Orlando Pirates respectively, netted a superbly taken hat-trick to inspire his team, Youngsters Football Club, to a well-deserved triumph over fellow coastal rivals Novanam.

Youngsters defeated a stubborn Novanam by 5 goals to 3 in an action-packed final in the maiden edition of the annual Standard Bank-sponsored Harders Cup at Lüderitz Sport Stadium yesterday. Eusebio, also scooped the Golden Boot award for finishing as the competition’s top goal scorer with seven goals.

He was the heartbeat of his team and certainly lived up to expectations.
All in all, the first half produced some thrilling action with veteran goal poacher Fredericks almost grabbing an early lead for the yellow-shirted team. He unleashed a terrific free kick only four minutes into the match, but Novanam goalie Josef Fillipus was equal to the task, paring the ball away for a corner kick.

Youngsters were the better of the two teams on the day, as they pressed from the onset with the two Fredericks siblings, Eusebio and younger brother Ozalio, tormenting the opposition’s rearguard as the pair manufactured defense-splitting passes while pressing high with amazing speed from the flanks.

Youngsters’ efforts were finally rewarded when they took the lead in the 11th minute through Romano Engelbrech, who composed himself to calmly slot the ball home for an early lead. However, the lead lasted only until the 26th minute as Novanam pulled a goal back through Adam Keister, who found himself unmarked and blasted the ball into the back of the net to level matters.

Eusebio restored his team’s lead to complete his brace in the 29th minute when another well-struck free kick deflected into the lower right corner of the post (2-1).
The diminutive speedy winger was again back in the thick of things in the 38th minute when he extended their lead to 3-1 from an acute angle after he masterfully controlled a long clearance from the goalkeeper. He bravely brought the stray ball back into play before calmly slotting it home to end the first half with a 3-1 lead.

More goals arrived in the second half, with Lintin Haman pulling a goal back for Novanam from the penalty spot four minutes after the restart to make it 3-2, but Youngsters again extended their lead through Engelbrech in the 58th.
The latter scored from a well-executed delivery from Eusebio before Eusebio completed his hat-trick in the 50th minute to give his team an unassailable 5-2 lead.

Novanam kept pressing ahead and knocking on all doors. Their persistence finally paid off in the 71st minute when burly substitute and Spanish national, Jorge Netho, reduced the deficit from a quickly taken free kick to make it 5-3 and that’s how the scoreline remained.

Final score: Youngsters 5-3 Novanom.

Youngsters FC also defeated bitter rivals Atlanta Bucs 4-3 in a hotly contested ‘Buchter Derby’ in front of the appreciative crowd of locals en route to the final at the packed-to-the-rafters stadium, while Novanam accounted for Rush Ups (2-1) in the other semifinal.

With a total of 22 goals scored on the opening day, Youngsters proved too ruthless for Man United, whom they hammered 6-2 to reach the semifinals, while the second match of the day saw some exhilarating football on display, as Atlanta Bucs also booked their spot in the semifinals in similar fashion by conquering Diamond City via a comprehensive 4-0 victory.

Novanam and Rush Ups entered the tourney at the semifinal stage of the six-team knockout competition, led by Man United, Diamond City, Atlanta Bucks, Youngsters, Rush Ups and Novanam, who were all vying for top honours.

Youngsters’ victory saw them collect the grand prize of N$100,000, while runners-up Novanam pocketed N$50,000 as consolation prize.

Rush Ups FC, conquerors of Atlanta Bucs (2-0) for the third-place play-off walked away with N$20,000. All the participating teams were the recipients of N$5,000 each as a token of appreciation for their efforts.

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