Namibia: 'Geingob Cup for Warriors Not Politics'

Saturday's Dr Hage Geingob Cup is explicitly a football platform and not for political campaigns, the organisers cautioned on Thursday.

Those falling foul of this instruction will be barred entry to or ejected from the Sam Nujoma Stadium, where the Brave Warriors host neighbouring Chipolopolo in an international friendly match. With national elections looming large, the organisers are wary that the occasion, which also features an exhibition match of retired football stars and prominent personalities, will be hijacked by opportunistic elements.

Instead, the public is invited to witness Namibia and Zambia renew their football rivalry at 15h00 on Saturday, with both sides using the match as a tune-up for impending continental assignments.

Brave Warriors' interim head coach Bobby Samaria is particularly keen to have the home support rally behind his side, the majority of whom continue to have no income other than the intermittent national team stipend as a consequence of the ongoing administrative war which has grounded all competitive domestic football.

"These players again have come a long way this year. I have the honour to coach these league-less boys, who are only determined to do what they can do best - play football - and on Saturday, they have to prove that they have what it takes to win this Cup," Samaria told the Namibia Football Association website in an interview.

The hosts beat Ghana 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out last year following an entertaining one-all stalemate at the end of 90 minutes. The year before, when the format was amended from a two-day international club tournament to its current state, Namibia beat Zimbabwe 3-1.

"The team have won the last two editions with a mixture of local (amateurs) and foreign-based professionals, and now it's time only for the local lads to shine. I want to see these boys' confidence boosted even further," Samaria said of the players whom he will lead at the 2020 Chan finals set for Cameroon in January.

Tomorrow's match is effectively an audition for inclusion in Tuesday's match-day squad to face Chad at home in a 2020 Fifa World Cup qualifier, and a subsequent clash in the same competition against Guinea in Conakry on 17 November.

"The local boys also have to push for places for the World and Afcon qualifiers next week, and that makes for an interesting game on Saturday against Zambia. We have a lot of talent, I have said this before, and it can only get better if well-managed," said Samaria, who hopes the stands will be packed for the right reasons.

Held in honour of football patron and president Hage Geingob, the event is meant to bring Namibians together, irrespective of political denomination, and is in no way linked to the polls for the presidential and National Assembly elections on 27 November.

The Cup abides by the Confederation of African Football safety and security regulations - specifically that the stadium code of conduct bans the promotion of political banners or other prohibited materials.

The organisers call on strict adherence and enforcement of the prohibited items' regulations as listed by CAF, which are: (a) any item that could be used as a weapon, cause damage or injury; (b) illegal substances; (c) items of a discriminatory and ideological nature; (d) any items that could distract players/ officials, such as noise from powered speakers; (g) promotional or commercial materials, political and religious banners; (j) any item that could restrict the view of other spectators and (k) items that increase the risks of fire or are harmful to health such as fireworks, smoke bombs and lasers, amongst others.

"We call for political tolerance and maturity from our football-loving people coming through on Saturday. Let's have a great day filled with fun and celebrate our flagship team, the Brave Warriors, the youngsters, artists and the legends as they entertain us after a very long year," the NFA and the organising committee of the Dr Hage Geingob Cup said in a joint statement.

Gates open at 10h00, and spectators will be treated to a preceding clash in the U/17 Youth League Challenge at 11h00 between Swallows FC versus Windhoek City FC, followed by the MTC Legends against NBL Legends at 13h00.

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