Namibia: 'Aweh, Football Is Starting'

Over 4 000 young people will finally get the opportunity to do what they love this weekend, and that is to play football.

That is the only thing that matters, says MTC spokesperson Tim Ekandjo, whose company is spending N$4,5 million on the MTC NFA Cup.

The flagship knockout competition kicks off with the preliminary round countrywide on Saturday, ending nearly three years of no competitive domestic football.

"Everybody calls it the beautiful game, and therefore we shouldn't mess it up. It's our responsibility to ensure that when this game starts, it is going to be memorable for the players. The players haven't been playing football for over two years now, all because of our making," Ekandjo said during the MTC NFA Cup launch in Windhoek yesterday.

"This competition is not about the administrators, it's about ensuring that those who want to play football realise their dreams. That should be what it's about, and not soccer politics," he said.

Ekandjo's plea will not fall on deaf ears, reassured Namibia Football Association (NFA) president Ranga Haikali, who has been at loggerheads with his secretary general Franco Cosmos over when football should resume.

Deputy minister of sport, youth and national service Emma Kantema-Gaomas asked Haikali what she should report back to the Cabinet regarding the status of football.

"In short, and with all due respect to our parliamentarians, I can only say that they must chill. Aweh, football has started indeed," Haikali said.

MTC will monitor the competition's progress "without interference" through an independent technical committee.

With the launch out of the way, the spotlight falls on the elimination rounds for the first and second-division clubs.

Unlike in previous FA cups, the lower-division sides will play the preliminary phase on home turf "to improve capacity in the regions".

The three first-division streams will each receive N$50 000 towards expenses, including venue bookings, medical services, referees and per diem.

Similarly all 14 second-division leagues will receive N$30 000 each to cover their bills.

To encourage competitiveness, the organisers have dangled a N$20 000 incentive in prize money for winning the preliminary round mini-tournaments.

The runner-up is guaranteed N$10 000, with the losing semi-finalists receiving N$5 000 each.

Six first-division clubs will advance to the round of 32 upon conclusion of this weekend's action and 14 from the third tier.

The 12 Namibia Premier Football League clubs will all receive first-round byes.

The second round will be played on 15 and 16 May, followed by the round of 16 on 19 and 20 June.

The quarter-finals are set for 3 and 4 July, with the semis on 17 and 18 July, before the grand finale on 31 July.

All clubs in the last 32 will get an N$18 000 travel allowance and will be supplied with playing gear, while the clubs contesting the competition decider will also receive a fresh set.

The MTC NFA Cup winners will receive N$500 000, with the runner-up due half of that.

Third place is valued at N$150 000, and fourth is worth N$100 000.

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