The Zambezi Region has over the years been struggling to compete successfully against other regions in various junior football tournaments in the country, but this is likely to change in the 2017 Skorpion Zinc U-17 Cup that is set to take place in Windhoek from 9 to 12 September.
The tournament will be contested by 14 regions after the mining company and the Namibia Football Association (NFA) signed an N$1.4 million once-off contract, which will likely be renegotiated and possibly renewed for 2018. The Zambezi Region would have to successfully navigate their way past the group stage if they are to have any chance of winning the cup.
The Zambezi Region is in group C alongside Kavango West, Oshana and Hardap regions.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer this week, Zambezi Region coach, Simanga Simanga, believes that his side will overcome all past failures to win the cup.
“We have gone into schools and recruited the best young players. The underperformance in the past was due to the fact that we used to call up players at the last minute and they did not have ample time to practice as a team. This year, our trials were held on 22 July already. We currently have 30 players that are training and we plan to trim the squad in two weeks’ time to around 18 or more players,” Simanga said.
Asked if he has done enough to prepare his team to win the cup, Simanga confidently said yes.
“Winning is on every coach’s mind. If our preparations go according to plan, yes we will win it. We have been knocked out in the group stages in the past. The problem has been that most of our players stay far in flooded areas or remote schools and to get them to town was not easy. Also most of our players are not used to playing under the lights in the night as they are used to play in the day. But now they are coping as we do some training sessions in the floodlights.”
In other groups, Omusati, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke and Kunene are seeded in Group A, while Ohangwena, Khomas, Oshikoto, Erongo and Kavango East are in Group B.
The group winners will proceed to the semi-finals, while runners-up in Group A and B will clash to determine the fourth team to go through to the semi-finals.
Omusati are the defending champions, after winning the 2014 and 2015 editions. The tournament was not played last year due to financial constraints.