Let the Festivities Begin!

BY this time on Friday, the much anticipated 14th edition of The Namibian Newspaper Cup will have begun in earnest.

The teams, officials and many of the effervescent supporters are all due to arrive in Tsumeb on Thursday, heralding the start of the four day spectacle.

With the organisers having anointed this year’s event as one where marked improvements will be the order of the day, all present can expect an enthralling instalment of youth football festival.

While the prizes for on-field brilliance have improved, the organisers will be handing out daily tokens of appreciation to the most luminously attired fan at the historic Oscar Norich Stadium as a reward for their committed support.

According to the NFA’s secretary-general, Barry Rukoro, the objective is to make the 2014 event “a memorable occasion for the family of football” in celebration of the longest running and uninterrupted football competition in the country.

“This year we are experiencing new innovations and some changes. Some of our members will find it difficult to adapt to these changes, but that is normal,” he said.

“However, we must try to embrace change with all our hearts, as those who fear change will never be able to taste the fruits of change. Change is good. It is a confirmation of growth.”

Rukoro said the addition of the Ministry of Sport, Ohorongo Cement and Dundee Precious Metals as supplementary supporters of the competition should be seen as a reflection of the value placed on the tournament, which is that of a priceless national activity.

Their involvement has made the event more lucrative and freed up additional funds for the rewarding of the players and supporters, he added.

“That [partnership] deserves celebration in itself. What is important is that the competition itself, as a result of the new strategic partners, will benefit and will become better going forward. Its future is secured for now, and we can plan for the long-term rather than living in the discomfort of not knowing what will happen next,” said Rukoro.

BATTLEFIELD

The Kunene and Zambezi regions will contest the first match of the tournament on Friday (08h00), followed by Erongo versus Karas (09h15), Hardap against Omusati (10h30), while Khomas play Oshana (13h00) and Kavango takes on Ohangwena (14h15).

Defending champions Otjozondjupa have been drawn to face Hardap (15h30) in their Group C opener, while hosts Oshikoto will face Omaheke (11h45) in a Group A fixture.

As is customary, the Brave Warriors will take on the Namibia Newspaper Cup Shadow Team in the main exhibition match on Sunday (16h45), while the Brave Gladiators will also take to the field against a special locally assembled team (15h30).

“This year the Brave Gladiators will again grace our competition, which is always a pleasure, Rukoro said.

“However, it is the opposition that looks very interesting this time around. The team is composed of girls playing in the Super League, who might want to stake their claim for a place in the Gladiators side before the African Women Championship taking place here on home soil later this year.”

In a bid to even the playing field, Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti has opted to name several uncapped youngsters – many of whom featured in the recent Newspaper Cup edition.

“Coach Ricardo [Mannetti] informed me that he has selected an interesting team, more hungry and without any arrogance. He assured me that they are coming after the Shadow Team. They want to wash them of the pitch,” Rukoro said.

Source : The Namibian