By John Tuerijama
PRESIDENT of the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA), Suketu Patel, has heaped praise on the Namibia Football Association for having organised an excellent COSAFA Castle Cup tournament.
The local organising committee of the NFA has faced a barrage of criticism from local fans for failing to aggressively market the tournament. This was evidenced by a poor turnout during the first round of matches. The poor turnout also necessitated the shifting of matches from Independence Stadium to Sam Nujoma Stadium.
In an exclusive interview with Confidente Sport, COSAFA president, Suketu Patel said: “We have seen some good games and at the same time we had some teams that were disappointed, but that is quite standard for the tournament.”
He added: “Our aim is to give opportunity to smaller nations to participate in high level tournaments with minimum three games in a space of a week. Secondly, in terms of logistics and the general organisation, I think Namibia has outdone itself really. They left nothing to chance and they used everything at their disposal to host the tournament.
Patel said what stood out for him was seeing formerly unknown players coming to the fore. “We have seen unknown players who certainly came through and the number of different scouts who came to see the talent on display. The tournament was so good we had little to complain about, I really have little to complain the tournament was outstanding,” he emphasised.
“What also really stands out for me is the support we received from President Hage Geoingob. He attended most of the matches, which is quite remarkable and commendable for a Head of State. I have been to different continental tournament such as AFCON and CHAN and I have never seen a man so enthusiastic about football. It is a very good thing for the NFA to have a President so close to the game who could possibly help in the development of the game. Really, I have never seen something like this. The man (Geingob) is so enthusiastic about football, it’s unbelievable.”
On the lack of spectators, Patel said the tournament could have benefited from a few more supporters but he said football was not just about the field but about the atmosphere created by the game. Commenting further on the poor attendance at many of the matches, Patel said that was a general problem in Africa and especially in Namibia which has a small population.
With regard to the general standard of the competition, Patel said teams like Malawi and Zimbabwe who are generally expected to finish in the last eight fared poorly compared to the likes of Swaziland and Lesotho who won a few hearts during the tournament.
The soft-spoken Patel called on the Namibian football family to support the national football federation. He said the NFA president Frans Mbidi, has all the necessary qualities to lead the NFA but needed everyone’s support to ensure the growth of football in Namibia.
As for the national teams fielding junior sides like in the case of South Africa, Patel said that was not the objective of COSAFA but added that South Africa had a specific reason which was to prepare their side for Rio 2016.
“We as COSAFA do not select the national teams but it will be good if national federations field their very best players in the competition,” he reiterated.
“We really do have a problem with the South African Premier Soccer League, and I think we will negotiate with them in future,” said the COSAFA president.
South Africa won this year’s edition of the COSAFA Castle Cup after beating Botswana 3-2 in the final last Saturday. Swaziland finished third overall while Namibia were knocked out at the quarter final stage. The Brave Warriors played and won the Plate final against Zambia.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015