Friday, April 27 2018 NEW ERA 42 SPORT Former footballers hail Africa’s wunderkind … Mo Salah tipped for greatness •Carlos Kambaekwa Man of the moment… Liverpool’s Egyptian goal machine Mohammed Salah. Windhoek – Retired footballers could not heap enough praises on Egyptian phenomenal goal machine, Mohammed Salah. The chunky-haired Liverpool target man is being talked about in the same breath as the world’s finest footballers present and past. “King Salah” has been in devastating goal-scoring mode since his arrival at English Premiership (EPL) giants Liverpool at the beginning of the current term. The bearded stocky winger has almost single-handedly propelled the Mersyside outfit to the brink of an European Champions League final. The shaggy-haired net buster tore apart his former team Roma in the semifinal, scoring a well-taken brace and setting up two other goals in Liverpool’s 5-2 demolition of Roma on Tuesday. “If you look at Salah, he plays exactly like Lionel Messi and possesses the same finishing skills, whilst he does not dive or easily go down to the ground. “Without an iota of doubt, Mo Salah is up there with Ronaldo and Messi, provided he maintains that level of performance for a long period,” says former SWA skipper Ian Wood. “When Salah left the field late in the second half, the pressure Ace in the pack… Former SWA skipper Hasso Ahrens (right) tussled for ball possession with African Stars FC lethal goal poacher Ace Tjirera during the historical exhibition match between the SWA Blacks and Whites invitational teams in 1975. on Roma’s defence had subsided – allowing Roma into their normal game,” said Hasso Ahrens. “On current cup form, I must admit the Reds have a much better chance to claim Europe’s most coveted silverware,” charges Andy Alfheim. “In all honesty, I can’t see Roma stopping Liverpool from scoring with Salah around. I seriously doubt they will repeat a Barca again. Jurgen Klopp’s man management is top class,” Gary Sales notes. Nghipandulwa stays on course in athletics •Windhoek Namibian 800m champion Daniel Nghipandulwa, 29, says he still has what it takes to continue taking part in athletics. Over time, Nghipandulwa has proven that age is nothing but a number, as he keeps producing the goodsin the 800m track event. Nghipandulwa, who first appeared on the local athletics scene in 2005, has never looked back, and continues to make his presence felt at local, regional and international events. His record of 1 minute, 46.62 seconds in Durban in 2010 still stands and although there are a few local athletes who are coming close to breaking that record – none has done so yet. Nghipandulwa said the only way one can stay on top as an athlete is to keep training and pushing oneself until results are seen. At last weekend’s Senior National Championships in Windhoek, Nghipandulwa showed that he is still young and raring to go for many more years by winning the 800m final in a time of 1 minute, 51.89 seconds to retain his national status over the distance. “I’m still unbeaten in the 800m race for the past 13 years, ever since I started in 2005. But I’m still young, I’ll turn 30 in June and I think I still have another 10 years to compete,” Nghipandulwa said. Nghipandulwa is heading to his regional hunting ground in Gaborone, Botswana for an international athletics meeting this coming Saturday. – www.nbc.na Still pushing… Namibian veteran long distance runner Daniel Nghipandulwa in still on course in athletics. Photo:www.nbc.na
Friday 27 April 2018 NEW ERA SPORT 43 Farewell to an unsung hero, Johannes Poriro Upingasana 1952 – 2018 Just as the nation was coming to terms with the passing of a great son of the soil, retired Black Africa midfielder, Bethuel “Five” Hochobeb, another tragedy has befallen domestic football. Former Poison Arrows FC lethal goal poacher Johannes Poriro Upingasana has gone West after a long battle with ill-health. Back in the day, a significant chunk of great athletes would be blinded by loyalty and would not easily change clubs, a practice that somehow robbed some of them a lifetime chance to display their God-given talents on the big stage. One such athlete was none other than the late Poison Arrows lethal net buster Poriro Upingasana. A phenomenal athlete blessed with aerial power, shooting ability with both feet and amazing speed, the beanpole skinny turned down numerous advances from top clubs such as Chief Santos, Rangers and Chelsea, while Katutura giants African Stars and Flames also tried in vain to lure the tall striker to the city of lights. •Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa Grootfontein – Just like many other young boys growing up in the dusty streets of Grootfontein’s vastly populated township, Omulunga at the time, young Poriro was football crazy. Young Poriro would play football on his way to the shops and during school breaks with his classmates and after school, sometimes until darkness set in. Poriro was born in Grootfontein in 1952 and angled a significant portion of his infant years between the triangle towns of Otavi, Tsumeb and his native Grootfontein. However, it was not until he started school in his hometown Grootfontein that he got hooked to the spherical object. “In those days, natives were made to live separately and this practice also trickled down to our social activities, whereas young kids we formed small teams along tribal lines. “We played football every day after school against teams from the Owambo and Damara locations, but sometimes these games would turn into tribal superiority – leading to fist fights whether you won or lost,” recalled former Poison Arrows prolific goal scorer with a twinkle in his eyes in a previous interview with New Era Sport. As a youngster, Poriro teamed up with other boys from his neighbourhood such as Don Kavindjima, Curtis Tjizepa, Haukijara Ndandu, Jansen Mbekumuna, Albert Kandingua, Theo, Kalla and Festus Kuzatjike as well as the Kazanga brothers Sacky and Kadidus. With the passing of time, Poriro was drafted into the first team of Omulunga-outfit Poison Arrows, a football team predominantly for the Herero-speaking. The young midfield-cum-striker quickly established himself as a proven goal getter alongside seasoned campaigners Sam Tjihuno and Kaniahozu. He became the toast of the club’s diehards. His arrival at Arrows coincided with the team’s sudden rise in popularity, as other teams in the region started to take note of the blue and white striped outfit. “Back in the day, competition was very tough with equally good teams in Grootfontein, led by the invincible Chelsea, Dynamos, Spurs, Poison Arrows and another coloured team from Luiperdsheuwel, managed by a chap going by the name of Fikkie Bazadine. “Chelsea used to be very strong but despite the odds stacked against us, we always competed fiercely against them. Unfortunately, we were always made to play Poriro (seventh from left in back row) in the blue and white stripe of his beloved Poison Arrows FC 1974. Standing from left: Kiahozu Hanavi, Festus Kuzatjike, Amos Uzera, Don Kavindjima, Kangaa Tjihuno, Victor Kovandja Kutako, Poriro Upingasana, Jansen Mbekunguna, Kalla Kuzatjike, Mititri “Cola Punch” Kakuizike. Seated, from left: Haukijera Uzera, Curtus Tjizepa, Albert Kandingua, Haukijera Hangara second fiddle to them and honestly speaking, I can’t recall a day we beat Chelsea.” Arrows also competed in several knockout cup tournaments in Otjiwarongo, Otavi and Tsumeb against the likes of African Stars (Otavi), Benfica, Santos, Rangers and Red Bees (Tsumeb), Life Fighters, Black Marroko Chiefs (BMC) and African Lions (Otjiwarongo). “We also played regularly in the annual Herero Cup against African Stars, Flames, Scorpions, Black Beauty Chiefs (BBC) Life Fighters, Kaondeka Eleven, Sunshine and Red Bees and once won a low-profile knockout cup in Okakarara.” In later years, Arrows spread their wings further to other towns competing in knockout cup tournaments in Walvis Bay and Windhoek, respectively – though with minimal success. “Our favourite hunting ground used to be Rundu where we won a couple of silverware. I used to score lots of goals and this probably led to the likes of Chelsea and Chief Santos casting an eye on me. Both teams badly wanted me to join them, but I turned them down, as I could not afford to abandon my boyhood team.” In the meantime, the trident of hometown boys, the late pair of football gurus Felix Kakuenje and Darius Tjakaurua, as well as Issy Kahungi, relocated to the city of lights (Windhoek) in search of greener pastures. The trio established Flames FC, as the visionary newcomers sought to topple African Stars from the pedestal. They put the necessary Jack of all trades… The late Poriro was a noted auto mechanic. mechanisms in place to lure the crème de la crème of South West Africa’s footballers to their stable with a football blueprint yet to be matched in modern football. It was highly expected that young Poriro would join the newly formed Katutura glamour football club, but the lanky striker dug his heels in the sand and would not move an inch. “I could seriously not see myself living in Windhoek and playing without my eternal striking partner Curtis Tjizepa. The two of us had a telepathic understanding on the playing field, tormenting opponents at will on any day.” The Grootfontein-based outfit became regular campaigners in the prestigious annual Top-16 Easter knockout tournament in Tsumeb. The prestigious tournament pitted the country’s best 16 teams against each other. “Eish, we did not win a lot of trophies during that time, but the crowds enjoyed our exciting brand of attacking football.” Poriro took a long look at the demise of modern football, including his former team Poison Arrows. He put the blame squarely on the shoulders of retired footballers. “You see, when age finally caught up with some of us – there was nobody ready to take over the baton from us and this has gravely contributed to the unavoidable downfall of many great football teams. “Poison Arrows were rendered extremely weak after we stopped playing and to worsen matters, as former footballers, we somehow unintentionally distanced ourselves from football activities, thus leaving the youngsters without proper guidance.” The beanpole goal-getter pulled no punches as he took aim at the younger generation of local Long Tom… RIP Johannes Poriro Upingasana footballers whom he described as big-headed and arrogant. “Football is very poor nowadays – the boys don’t want to seek advice and are in the habit of telling us not to remind them about football in our era; dismissing it as old-fashioned. “During our playing days, we had highly gifted footballers complemented by committed administrators like Jonathan Ndandu, who was a pillar of strength for the long-term survival of Poison Arrows. The crowds always lifted us with their undying passion for football and the players would gladly return the compliment by living up to the occasion.” A remorseful Poriro expressed the hope that his beloved Poison Arrows will bounce back and reclaim its rightful place among the country’s top football-playing teams. The team is currently campaigning in the lower division and Poriro alongside some of the club’s stalwarts hoped to get the team back in top-flight football within the not-too-distant future through their hands-on involvement. Like many former local footballers, Poriro bemoaned the poor standard of modern football and believed Namibia’s independence came a bit too late for some of them. “We were very good and had independence arrived a bit earlier, Namibia could be among the top football-playing nations on the African continent. “All the players were equally good with every single team having at least five players in their armoury capable of representing the country at any given time.” May his soul rest in eternal peace.