Walvis Bay — With only 9 teams campaigning in the country's topflight league going into the hat for the last 16 draw of the prestigious Bidvest Namibia Cup - it was inevitable that some of the big guns would fall by the wayside.
The first round proper produced some shocking results that saw previous cup holders Black Africa and Civics fail to clear the first hurdle. The pair was joined as early casualties by league rookies Tura Magic who were eliminated by old nemesis Hotspurs, a team strutting their stuff a division lower.
Namibia's oldest knockout football competition is fondly known for producing few surprises and has in past editions seen some heavyweights tumble against lesser opponents. But then again that's what the NFA Cup is all about.
Sixteen teams, led by a large contingent of 9 teams from the elite MTC Premier League and 7 representatives from the lower divisions went toe to toe when the draw was conducted in the spacious Pelican Hotel in Walvis Bay last night.
The organizers have introduced the Man of the Match award to be voted for by media experts and also added a new concept called "Be Spotted" campaign, formulated to involve and reward attending fans while encouraging further attendance at matches.
An amount of N$1 000 has also been set aside for the Man of the Match award, while an additional N$1 000 will also be at stake for a charity to be chosen by the winner.
"It's the desire of Bidvest Namibia and its supporting group of companies that the sustainability of the games be maintained. But we also at the same time wish that the quality of the game will continue to improve and our nation's support for its national pastime will not fade but increase," said Jerome Mouton CEO of Namsov in his keynote speech.
The Secretary-General of the NFA, Barry Rukoro, reiterated the association's commitment towards the development of football across the spectrum. He boasted that the NFA has done its part by soliciting a massive sponsorship from Bidvest Namibia and challenged all stakeholders to make it their sole beat to vigorously support the cause and to make the competition an eventful occasion for all sports enthusiasts.
Governor of the Erongo Region, Cleophas Mutjavikua, urged Namibians to emulate the feats of fellow African nations Kenya and Ethopia who both market their athletes as one of their core competencies internationally. "I would therefore like to see Namibia using soccer as a vital tool to put our country on the world map," he said.
Defending champions Eleven Arrows have been pitted against FNB Orlando Pirates in one of only two all Premier League clashes that will also see LHU Blue Waters come up against Ramblers.
The full fixtures are as follows:
Orlando Pirates vs Eleven Arrows
Young Braves vs Rundu Chiefs
Omafe United vs African Stars
Hotspurs vs Tigers
United Stars vs SKW
Blue Waters vs Ramblers
African Lions vs Swakomund FC
Golden Bigs vs Mighty Gunners.