‘Foreign player syndrome in Namibia shameful’

Over the years there has been existing a neat symmetry of professionals in Quinton Jacobs (Denmark), George Hummel ,Sidney Plaatjies (both South Africa), Razundara Tjikuzu (Germany)and other professionals until the arrival of Bamfuchile who has lashed out at foreign based players for their desire to be accorded preferential treatment.

According to Bamfuchile, Namibia cannot make it to the Nations Cup let alone the World Cup if disparities of player hierarchy characterise the team. He argues that he has had to contend with advising younger players that they are not handicapped by bad genes or financial misfortune and must therefore belittle their potential as castigated by some members of the team.

The disrespect shown by several foreign-based players has affected the squad, the coach concedes. Affected, because the days preceding big matches are always mired by misplaced foreign-player mania.

On his first assignment with the Brave Warriors during last year’s Cosafa tournament, Bamfuchile struggled to contain a host of professionals who skipped camp, while others brought in their female counterparts into the hotel. In the African Nations Cup qualifier against Libya, Jomo Cosmos (South Africa) player Sidney Plaatjies was angry at being substituted for a local based player and promised the coach that he will never wear the Brave Warriors shirt again. Danish-based Quinton Jacobs spent the return flight fuming at being played on the wrong position and blamed the coach for the defeat, promising not to return to base.

Bamfuchile cautioned the players involved on the Cosafa incident and asked them to write letters of apology of which only a few did. Germany based Tjikuzu refused to apologise and bade farewell to the national team up to today. He said he had to call Plaatjies after the Libya incident and iron out their differences. However, the return of Plaatjies angered some professionals in George Hummel, who among other things walked out of training on the eve of the Libya reverse tie citing irreconcilable differences.

Although most players publicly applaud the coach’s abilities, the coach remains adamant that a lot needs to be done with regards to putting the nation first.

The expatriate’s mood may have been soured by Jacobs’ last-gasp attack on the technical team on the eve of this weekend’s African Nations Cup qualifying match against DRC. “I do not believe in the media compiling a team for me. And neither should the media lobby for some players to be recruited into the national team. The buck stops with me,”he said.

Bamfuchile said he would only allow Germany based Razundara Tjikuzu back into the squad, “only when he writes a letter of apology for his unbecoming behaviour.” He also added that he would consider Jacobs for the last qualifier against Ethiopia “after talking to the player and ironing out a few basics.”

But at least for now, his judgement could not be vindicated. As they plotted the downfall of DRC, Jacobs told the coach through the local media that he no longer wants to be considered for national duty.

For Bamfuchile, most Namibian professional players do not know what it means to be a professional. He said, “First they think it is their money, and then their ego and pride, but they are wrong. Professionalism is not about that. We need serious lessons on how we should lecture our boys on that area because as it stands, anyone in the team who plays abroad can do whatever he deems necessary and I won’t build a squad on such indiscipline. If a player has a problem with me, he should go report to my superiors, NFA, not seek the public support through the press.”

There has certainly no hint that the few professionals Namibia has, have acquired the discipline necessary to fulfil their duties, expect Colleen Benjamin, Oliver Risser (both Germany), Meraai Swartbooi (Angola) and Plaatjies. Bamfuchile argues that during matches some players drift inexorably into positions that are not part of the tactical formation. “I know some of these players have argued that I play them on wrong positions while others argue why I substitute them, but everyone should know that the bucks stops with me,” he argues. “I have to take the blame for the loss and any blunders we make.”

Bamfuchile is happy with Benjamin who started the Libya match as a striker and scored the solitary goal within the first ten minutes, yet he is played as a midfielder in the German Bundesliga. Plaatjies and the coach have buried the hatchet and is now a regular in Bamfuchile’s squad.

For the coach, Namibia has not made such big name players like Samuel Eto’O or Didier Drogba. He argues that there has to come a point where the interest of the Self Important Ones must stop superseding those of Namibia. And the time is now.

Those that fail his doctrine can go bungee-jumping without a rope around their ankles, he says.

June 2007
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