…Samaria refuses to be complacent in last fixtures
MTC Premiership champion, African Stars Football Club (FC) head coach, Bobby Samaria (BS) has said that there is no room for complacency as the glamour club wants to conclude the 2017/18 football season on a high.
Currently at the summit of the log standing on 61 points, African Stars FC still face coastal giants Blue Waters FC and Eleven Arrows FC.
In an exclusive interview with Confidente Sport Reporter, John Tuerijama (JT) this week, Samaria re affirmed his team’s quest to play like champions regardless of having secured the title already.
JT: Looking back to the beginning of the season and African Stars performances, did you know for certain that you are going to win the league?
BS: Nothing is for certain in football, as each game presents a different challenge with different dynamics. But having started pre-season early gave us an advantage in terms of fitness and readiness for the campaign.
JT: At what stage of the campaign did you know that African Stars FC was going to be crowned champions?
BS: I think after the conclusion of the first round and having cemented a comfortable lead it came to mind that yes indeed it is possible to win it.
All what was required was to ensure the players and technical staff remained grounded and focused on the job at hand.
JT: With African Stars scheduled to conclude the league against coastal sides Blue Waters and Eleven Arrows, will you still pick your first eleven for these two fixtures or simply have a relaxed approach?
BS: We cannot afford to have a relaxed approach that would be sending out the wrong signals. I will, however ensure that the players who did not get sufficient game time all season will feature prominently in the last two games without compromising on the quality and objective to win. I have an obligation to keep the core team fresh in anticipation of us advancing to the next round in the Namibia Football Association (NFA) Debmarine Cup.
JT: How difficult was the 2017/18 season compared to the 2014/15 football season in terms of challenges?
BS: Remember we had no football for 18 months prior to the commencement of the league with the knock on effect that players were demoralized and extremely unfit. When the NPL leadership presented their business case to the would be sponsors, and the buy in was confirmed, it was like music to our ears. That presented our footballers (of which 90 percent makes a living from football) with an opportunity to again start living a meaningful life and contribute positively to their various households.
JT: How have you encouraged your players to give their all on the pitch in this campaign?
BS: Football is not constant, which means that other teams prepared and strengthened their squads as well. It was up to us to showcase and maintain our level of commitment, dedication and willingness to sacrifice for the team. We also encouraged them to have love and harmony in the group. It was refreshing to note that there was no ill feelings from the players who did not play as much as they would have liked to play.
JT: Now that it is public knowledge that African Stars are the champions, and looking at the N$ 1 million prize money, have you proposed any incentives to management and if so, what are these?
BS: It would be gross negligence from my part and equally management not to have had the foresight to incentivize the team for their efforts during the season. The chairperson, Patrick Kauta had a meeting with the captains at the beginning of the season, and an agreement was reached, which is unfortunately not for public consumption.
JT: Looking at the 2018/19 football season what will be your priority areas in terms of improvement?
BS: We constantly look at improving the team not only the playing personnel but the management of the team is also a vital part to form a winning combination on the field of play. It goes without saying that the team will be looking at strengthening the squad in positions that we think lack strength.
JT: What is your message to the evergreen die hard African Stars supporters who rallied behind the team?
BS: Yes, the supporters played a significant part in the success of the team and I would encourage them to continue to do so. I think African Stars supporters should stop to just sit and support and elevate themselves to become partners of the Club. Further, what is disturbing though is when the team is not doing well the coach and players alike had to endure all sorts of insults. When we lose, the coach and his players feel the disappointment more but it now seems as if we care less. As human beings you need to treat each other with respect and handle situations in a dignified manner, but I think we weathered the storm.
Supporters should be realistic and accept that their beloved football club will not win all the games all the time but when we go out there to battle, it is with one objective on our mind. With everything being said, I believe the majority of the supporters share my sentiments and the few exceptions will eventually come around I believe.
JT: Do you think African Stars has what it takes in terms of talent and skill to successfully defend the title next season?
BS: African Stars did it before and I see no reason why not.
JT: Do you foresee a situation where you will release some players before next season?
BS: That goes without saying…that is, if I am still the coach. LOL
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