The enthusiasm that has engulfed Namibia before last Saturday’s COSAFA Cup match between Namibia and South Africa in Zambia is amazing and baffling.
It reminds one of the 1998 and 1999 era when Namibia twice played and defeated South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in two consecutive COSAFA Cup competitions at the Independence stadium.
Those who were around will nostalgically remember the euphoria that gripped the country before and after those two matches.
South Africa, being the perceived powerhouse of African football at that time, was odds on favourite to wallop Namibia on both occasions.
Truth be told, Namibia’s Brave Warriors were prepared to die for the jersey and the flag but they were not prepared to die as a result of being pummeled by Bafana. The two clashes were therefore very titanic and Namibia emerged victorious.
Lest we forget, the Brave Warriors received a severe 4-1 beating by the same Bafana Bafana in Bobo Dioulasso, in the 1998 African Cup of Nations group matches.
The love-hate relationship between the two nations, especially on the sporting front has continued ever since. Granted, South Africa is a much stronger nation than Namibia on the sports front and therefore provide a good yardstick against which Namibian sports teams can measure themselves. Obviously, it will be shortsighted to believe that South Africa is the be all and end all of sports for Namibia.
However, weighing yourself up against a stronger opponent should not be a deterrent for success. In some cases, we have Namibian national teams going to compete against provincial teams in South Africa.
That’s laughable but it talks about how far we still need to go to get to a more superior or dominant level in our sports.
In codes like football, however, competition is at an equal football and big score lines are not heard of any more. Things have evolved in such a dynamic way that South African football teams at all age groups take Namibia seriously.
That is perhaps what brought the electrifying excitement that dominated the nation in the last week since Namibia beat Mauritius and Seychelles to set up the quarter final match that was played last Saturday.
The same atmosphere was evident during Namibia’s World Cup qualifying game against Nigeria which resulted in Namibia thwarting the Super Eagles’ automatic march to Brazil next year.
If Namibia, as a sports nation could keep such momentum and support all its national teams, irrespective of codes, as much as they did against Nigeria and South Africa then the country’s quest to become a leading sports nation could be very close to realization.
Unfortunately, Namibia has fair weather sports fans that only support the national teams when all things are fine. Losing teams are frowned upon and individuals and companies fall over themselves to support the winners.
That should not be the case.
The enthusiastic, moral and material support should be given all the time and maybe all the time the country’s national and representative teams will reciprocate by giving a good account of themselves against foreign opponents. Only then can we expect to be ranked amongst the top sports nations.