7 December 2012

Namibia: Inside the Aged - Garrincha? Sharpshooter Who Packed Dynamite

Otjiwarongo — The father of 35 siblings cuts a lonely figure these days in contrast to the feared striker who used to terrorize defenders in his heyday. From the moment he started kicking a soccer ball at the Catholic Mission School - Mariabron near his hometown of Grootfontein - Pius was destined for the bigger stage and it was while still at primary school that young Pius got the taste of organized football when he joined Tsumeb-based outfit Rangers FC, where he played alongside childhood buddy Gabes Dausab.

"Rangers had a very good squad and players like Celle Auchumeb, Kauru Bilhawer, and Jacobus 'Kalm' Auchumeb were in a class of their own," he recalls. Pius went to further his education at the school of excellence, the St Joseph's Secondary School at Döbra in 1965 and joined a school team going by the name of Chief Santos, where he found himself in the company of greats such as Daito Hagedoorn, Straal Auchumeb, Allion Gawanab and Foreman Power.

Unlike many of his peers who graduated through the ranks - Pius walked straight into the formidable first team of Döbra. "I used to score between 8 and 10 goals per game, which was a phenomenal feat in itself, considering that I was still a rookie. I was surrounded by very good footballers such as Kariiri Katire, Vossie van Wyk, Ben Kauejao and the Hans brothers Willem, John and Mike."

As fate would have it, young Pius was expelled from school after he went AWOL in 1969, but he soon found refuge at Black Kangootui's house in the Katutura township. At that time, he had already played one game for Black Africa FC, announcing his arrival in style when he crashed the makeshift wooden goalposts at the Augustineum rugby field with a ferocious shot in a match against Rocco Swallows with Champ Am-!Gameb between the sticks.

"The ageing Black Africa squad was struggling to stamp its authority on proceedings against the likes of African Stars, Orlando Pirates and Tigers. We were obliged to recruit a number of young players from our nursery - Döbra - and that led to the inevitable arrival of Karirii, Vossie, Malaka Somseb, Gabes Dausab, Five Hochobeb, Mike Hans and Hassie Mingeri. Only then did the squad become more competitive."

Pius recalls with tears of joy the historic day when the old Katutura Stadium was packed to the rafters during the final of the Dave's Furnishers Cup against Oscar Mengo's inspired African Stars in 1974, which carried the winner takes all prize of N$1 000.

"We were the hot favourites to win that match, but Stars came up with a better game plan. I was completely bottled out of that encounter by Kirie Tjituaiza and Kaika Kuzee as they both stuck to me like lice - giving me very little room to manoeuvre." BA lost 3-2.

Pius toured Botswana with BA in the same year with the team from Windhoek recording a whitewash against all their opponents during the four games of the tour. Pius netted 5 goals in each match against Notwane and Gaborone United, while he also put his name on the score sheet in the other two matches of the tour.

"At the time, the standard of our football was much higher than that of Botswana. From there, we went to Johannesburg and played against teams from the non-racial Federation League which consisted mainly of Indian and Coloured teams," he continues.

After his impressive display, young Pius soon returned to the City of Gold - Egoli - in the colours of the formidable South West Africa Bantu Invitational XI for the biannual South African Provincial Impala Cup Competition in 1974.

The star-studded South West Africa team won the cup with Pius finishing top goal scorer in the tournament and his tally of 17 goals did not go unnoticed. Among those who kept an eagle eye on his goal-scoring prowess was the late Kaizer Chiefs chief scout Ewert 'The Lip' Nene.

Pius scored in each and every match and netted 2 goals in the final with Willem Eichab adding the 3rd when South West Africa trounced Transvaal 3-1 in the final. "We came back on Sunday and on Thursday the same week I received a surprise visit from Ewert Nene in the company of Sisingi Hiskia, chasing my signature. We had to drive all the way to Grootfontein in Black Kangootui's pick-up to get permission from my old man so that I could go and play professional football for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa."

It was his second spell at the Phefeni glamour football club after his compatriot and namesake Pele Blaschke took him to South Africa earlier, but his roving eye for a pair of well-shaped legs and ankles got him in trouble with some of his team mates and he returned to his native land a dejected man.

A much wiser Pius was not going to fall in the same trap again. He quickly settled down with the Amakhosi set-up and gave his new team mates an indication as to what was to be expected when he left team mate Hanger Dlamini with fractured fingers after the lanky shot stopper tried to block a bullet-like shot from Eigowab, during his first training session with Chiefs.

His new team mates immediately duped him "The Butcher" because of his ferocious shots. Pius certainly lived up to that billing when he left Amazulu's goalkeeper Fred Mfeka in the same predicament as Dlamini in his debut match for Chiefs. Amakhosi won the match 2-1 with Pius netting a brace.

"There was a very good camaraderie in the team and I will not forget the day when we played Orlando Pirates in a charity match in Bloemfontein. The match ended 2-all with both my compatriots Pele Blaschke and Oscar Mengo netting a goal apiece."

A wise old man once said you can't have two bulls in one kraal and when the legendary Brazilian winger Jairzihno joined Kaizer Chiefs - he found two Namibians named after his compatriot Pele and resolved to change that scenario. "He was the one who decided to name me after another Brazilian great Garrincha and that name stuck up to this day.

"When I think about the Chiefs squad of those days, I want to turn back the clock. We had greats such as Mgababa Dlamini, Jerry Sadike, Pro Kungoane, Bizzah Dlamini, Oscar Mengo, Pele Blaschke, Jacky Masike, Computer Lamola, Banks Sethlodi, Tikkie Khoza, Ten-ten Nzimande, Pro Khumalo, Ryder Mofokeng and Johnny Makwekwe," relates Pius with a twinkle in his eyes.

Pius was a guest of honour on Zimbabwe's Independence Day when he played as guest player for Zimbabwe against Zambia. The hosts won 2-1 with Pius netting the opener. "I really enjoyed that match because I was surrounded by very good players such as Fred Mwila, Allen Malley and Ace Ntsoelengoe."

He was later transferred to unfashionable Durban outfit African Wanderers. "I had a great time in Durban and was instrumental in luring several home boys to Kwazulu/Natal that saw the team sign Malaka Somseb, Kaputji Kuhanga, Hannes Louw and former African Stars Zairian import Zenga Dodos."

Pius finally came back to his native land in 1983 and signed for Walvis Bay outfit Sparta for one season. "I was still enjoying my football when I came back but it was a great honour to play alongside greats such as Ivo and Carlos de Gouveia, Jimmy Orchard, Uwe Bachman, Ronny Dagnin, Donny Renzke, Julius Hagedoorn and Cruyff Kudulu."

His flirtation with the spherical object came to an abrupt end via a bone crunching tackle by the late Pirates (Dolam) robust and burly defender Kamundu !Horaeb. He regards former Eleven Arrows sharpshooter Gabes 'Flying Fish' Mupupa and Explorer Eleven mercurial playmaker, Storm Gom-Khaiseb, as the most complete footballers of his generation.

"Up to this day, people are still asking me who was better between Ace Ntsoelengoe and Jomo Sono. There is just no comparison between those two boys because they were equally dangerous with contrasting styles. Jomo was a master dribbler and very good at one-two's, while Ace was unpredictable and possessed a football brain second to none," concludes Pius.

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