WINDHOEK – Those in the know will accredit and rightly so, that Brave Warriors second in command Ronnie Kanalelo, as the Messiah behind the University of Namibia (UNAM) Football team’s incredible rise to stardom in domestic football.
The Clever Boys as UNAM is affectionately known amongst its ardent followers, surprised friend and foe when they eliminated pre tournament favourites Black Africa from the lucrative Debmarine Namibia Cup, the equivalent of the English FA Cup.
Spearheaded by former Black Africa acrobatic shot stopper and mentor Kanalelo, the unfashionable students went into their semifinal clash against the Namibian Cup Kings as underdogs but football is a game of surprises.
A determined UNAM outfit confronted Lucky Richter’s fired Black Africa in the first semi final match at the freezing Sam Nujoma Stadium, on Saturday afternoon in the curtain raiser of the African Stars/Civics semifinal clash of the titans.
After a goalless first half that saw the Clever Boys miss a spot kick via the miscued boot of Bornface Siyanga, the match was evenly balanced with goal scoring chances far and between.
Second half entrant McCarthy Naweseb broke the deadlocked with a brilliant goal from close range, sending the Gemegde outfit’s small army of supporters into frenzy. However, former BA’ dreadlocked goal poacher Tara Katupose showed his former team mates few familiar routines when he headed the students on level terms.
The match ended in one all after regulation time obliging the referee to add another 30 minutes of extra time and with the score line still one-all at the end of extra time – the tie had to be decided on the dreaded penalty shout lottery.
Lanky veteran centre back Marry-Boy Martin and Derlio Goagoseb were both successful from their penalty attempts but defender Vitapi Ngaruka missed his spot kick.
Evergreen goatee bearded midfielder Heini Isaacks, Veno Tjikundi, Marcel Papama and Lebbeus Mwatilefu all converted their allocated spot kicks while new sensation Wendell Rudath netted for BA leaving goal scorer Katupose with the opportunity to dispatch the decisive penalty.
Katupose kept his cool and expertly placed his spot kick way beyond the reach of BA’s goalie to give UNAM an unassailable 5-3 cushion.
Reds put one hand on
In the second semi final, newly crowned MTC Premiership champions African Stars saw off a stubborn Civics 2-1 in a nail biting clash to book a date against the Clever Boys.
‘Starlile’ looked on course for an easy stroll in the park when speedy winger Guti Korukuve put the Reds in the lead but Civilians goal poacher Gunzu Salazar netted a lucky equalizer when he bulldozed a loose ball into the net past the stranded Reds goalie Ratanda Mbazuvara to level matters.
With no goals forthcoming in the second half – the match went into extra time and while spectators made themselves ready for the dreaded penalty shoot out – up stepped veteran Brave Warriors skipper Stigga Ketjijere.
Ketjijere, a legal practitioner by profession unleashed a pile driver from range – leaving the bemused Civics goalie, catching flies.
The Civilians conceded a corner kick and after failing to clear their lines allowing the stray ball falling kindly on the path of Ketjijere, who obliged by sending a cracking shot into the back of the net to make it 2-1 for Stars with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Despite their narrow defeat, the Civilians’ Donald Geiseb was deservedly chosen Man of the Match, shedding tears of joy and agony as he receives his accolade from NFA Executive member Roger Kambatuku.