Namibia keep coaches guessing

The Zambian national soccer team caretaker coach Ben Bamfuchile told Zambian media that he had been offered the job as namibian national squad trainer while South African media announced Zimbabwean, Shepherd Murape, as the new Namibian coach. But the Namibia Football Association has refuted both claims. “We have not yet given the job to anyone and it’s a lie that Murape or Ben have been handed the job,” said NFA spokesperson, Beau Kauta. Kauta only revealed that the national soccer coach would be announced from the two who remained favourites after the May 21-24 interviews. Bamfuchile is caretaker coach of the Chipolopolo Boys after the resignation of former national soccer team Technical Director, Kalusha Bwalya in March. However, speculation is rife that 56-year-old Zimbabwean-born coach Murape, might be given the job and his assistant would be former Brave Warriors goal minder Ronnie Kanalelo. Murape was Namibia’s first coach after independence when the Brave Warriors played Madagascar in their maiden appearance in the international arena. With Oupapa Shipanga as the team manager, Murape groomed the majority of players that were to represent the country five years later at the 1998 Burkina Faso Nations Cup. A recipient of various Coach of the Year awards in three southern African countries, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, Murape says he has the blessings of his paymaster at Blue Waters. “My boss has the national team at heart like any Namibian and has agreed to release me if the call comes,” said Murape, referring to the club owner, Hendrik Davids. Arguably the best paid coach in Namibia, Murape’s 20-year-old career on the bench started at Dynamos in Zimbabwe in the late eighties where he took the Harare giants to the quarterfinals of the African Cup (now African Champions League) then played on a knockout basis. His CV is a decorum of experience, having coached South African sides, Orlando Pirates, Moroka Swallows, Amazulu, Manning Rangers and Black Leopards in his eight-year stint in South Africa. Quizzed on whether he would prefer working with a European coach, if he lands the job, Murape said: “It depends on the funds. I now know southern African football, the Namibian culture of football at large .The idea is to work with a coach who is flexible to have players from such alienated regions like Caprivi and the south.” Without any mind-boggling irregularity, Murape, between 1990 and 1993 also served as U-20 and U-23 coach for Namibia. On his return from South Africa in 2003, he turned down an NFA offer to lead the Brave Warriors in a Cosafa tie with Angola. “It was too early, then. Now I have achieved something and know the players better,” explains the coach who marooned the 2003-2004-league title at the coast with Blue Waters. Besides, Bamfuchile, former Zambian forward, Wedson ‘Super’ Nyirenda, had also faxed in his application. The 40-year-old Zanaco coach is also the current U-17 Chipolopolo mentor. Namibia is currently ranked 161 in the world and 39th on the continent and will play its first international match in the Cosafa tournament against Seychelles where they remain favourites to meet Zambia in a mini-leg semi final. According to NFA spokesperson, Beau Kauta, “the coach is already there but we have asked him to get his papers ready with home affairs.” Both Shepherd Murape and Ben Bamfuchile spent the better part of last week in Windhoek trying to “sort out things” with Ministry of Home Affairs. Speculation is rife that Murape was possibly trying to get his original documents and qualifications from the Immigration while Bamfuchile was seeking a work permit. Murape told The Southern Times that he had handed his credentials to the Ministry when he was renewing his contract with Blue Waters. This means that the local soccer association had settled not for a foreign coach due to lack of sufficient funds. “They were not mainly looking for experience but they wanted qualifications”, said Bamfuchile. The Brave Warriors have been without a coach since April last year when the national team was booted out of the Southern regional COSAFA Cup by a vastly improved Botswana.

June 2006
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