Let me start off by declaring my interest and express regret that Black Africa (BA) crashed in the semi-finals against UNAM. Incidentally, I have sustained some affinity with all four clubs that reached the Debmarine semi-finals, even though BA has remained the closest to my heart. In the years I led BA, my best friend Stanley Kozonguizi was the national chairman of African Stars and for the longest time I found myself giving him some technical advice when he played teams other than BA.
Civics and BA shared this mutual asset, Brian Isaacks, currently the coach of Civics. In the end BA stabilised Brian in the position of midfield-general and he settled there until his retirement from active football. Admittedly Brian remained the mainstay of BA’s evergreen period and Civics remained our cross-town rivals, but we retained this symbiotic relationship. UNAM is the other team I was involved with during my reign of 10 years as Dean of Students at the University of Namibia, when I was at the helm of the Tertiary Institutions Sports Association of Namibia (TISAN). We at the time retained Seth Boois as coach on a part-time basis to help us groom and many good names went through this exercise, the likes of Struggle Ihuhua, Kavendjii, and Lolo Goraseb. Among these featured a boy by the name Solomon Hei whom we affectionately baptized “Show Me Your Number”, because of his soccer acumen and ability as dribbling wizard. He was a marvel, with vision and the capacity to provide leadership on the field.
Hei is now on the technical team of African Stars and that is reason all the more for me to sustain this affinity towards Stars. Even more, my brother Patric Kauta is the Chairman of African Stars and each time a soccer discussion enters a family gathering, I pretend to be taking an incoming phone call because I would be the odd number in the meeting as all but me would be Stars’ supporters.
Back to the Debmarine Cup Final. My experience with football is that normally the underdogs are the most comfortable on the field because they have nothing to lose. If they do not win, they have done their best and if they win, they have surprised expectations. In this case, African Stars will enter the field as the team to beat, as they boast a plausible track record, the latest being the league championship. In fairness to their record, Stars played consistently and they sealed the league trophy while they had three or four matches still to play.
UNAM is by and large an untested entity whereas with Stars there are names such as Ketjijere, Uanivi to note in advance of the game, but there is hardly a name that stands out on UNAM’s first eleven. But you see that is the very squad that eliminated BA in the semi-finals. The UNAM team went in against BA, covered in this image of underdogs, killed the game to capitalize on half-chances and forced a draw. In the end they edged the former champions and reputed cup kings with five goals to four on penalties to book a place in the final.
My inclination is that if nothing works, the Debmarine Cup will be won on the self-conscious capacity of the coaches to provide vision and a winning programme on the field of play. And I shall resist the urge to compare and contrast the two coaches, lest this would apply pressure on one or both of them. But I expect that the nation will be treated to a technical and tactical game, punctuated by elements of the squeeze football approach, particularly from the UNAM side of the equation.
I wish the two coaches the best out of the encounter and in the end we shall all celebrate a good treat for our money.