New Era (Windhoek)

Africa: Shooting From the Hip - African Stars, Black Africa Clash an African Affair

opinion

SO, the race for the coveted MTC Namibia Premier League title will be statistics in the next 48 hours or so. At a time like this, jealousy, envy, bias, adoration and of course the usual unjustified sentiments put aside - yours truly I suppose is qualified and privileged to have the nation's ear through this often poisonous pen, while fully conscious that my judgment and well meant analysis will not be blinded by prejudice.

I will today pour out a fiery stream of weathering sarcasm - for it's not light that is needed but fire - it's not the gentle shower but thunder. There should be no jiggery-pokery when the country's two most successful football teams, African Stars and Black Africa, confront each other for supremacy and bragging rights in domestic football.

Fellow citizens and all lovers of the beautiful game out there, tomorrow is not just an ordinary day for Namibian football, it's a day that will take many a diehard football fan down memory lane to that freezing Sunday afternoon in 1974 when the two teams clashed in the historic final of the Daves Furnishers Knockout Cup at the old Katutura Stadium, the Mecca of local football now befittingly rechristened the Sam Nujoma Stadium.

A paltry amount of N$1 000 was at stake on that particular day - the first of its kind in local football, which was then considered a fortune. Now almost 40 years after the Reds saw off their more fancied opponents in a 5-goal thriller - both teams return to the same scene again with different players and a different mission in pursuit of a staggering sum of one million dollars.

Tomorrow's clash of the titans is a moving tribute to the departed heroes from that historic encounter and yours truly would humbly like to suggest to the league authorities to observe a moment of silence in honour of the following departed heroes from both teams: Gabes Dausab, Vossie van Wyk, Albert Louw, Stouter Ochurub, Malaka Somseb, Kaika Kuzee, Nicklaas Kajau and Ben Kauejao.

One man who will have fond memories of that historic match is none other than African Stars' former blue-eyed boy and the Reds' incumbent Technical Director (TD) Oscar 'Silver Fox' Mengo. While his former peers have turned their backs on the game, the former Kaizer Chiefs midfield maestro has made a surprise return to the game that took him beyond the borders of his native land to showcase his prodigious God-given talent in neighbouring countries such as Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa during the height of apartheid in the early seventies.

Mengo's surprise return to the Reds' nest has certainly galvanised the team following two solid seasons of sporting an empty trophy cabinet. History will reveal that his first arrival at Stars as a young tricky attacking midfielder from rivals Flames FC changed the fortunes of the youthful but average Stars outfit and as the saying goes - the rest is history.

Namibian football will have come around full circle tomorrow and never in the history of domestic football has a football match attracted such massive interest even from neutral football fans. Yours truly would like to appeal to all lovers of the beautiful game, the fans of both teams, and especially the players themselves not to give credence to the ignoble truism that football is a gentleman's game, played by hooligans and ruffians.

Please let us behave in an orderly manner and refrain from using foul and abusive language towards players and match officials. Let the spirit of fair play prevail and may the best team win. I rest my case.

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