Civics v Eleven Arrows, Saturday 7th February 2015, 1.15pm

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Last year I booked flights and hotels in Morocco to coincide with the final week of the African Cup of Nations. As you may remember, the Moroccan authorities were less than enthusiastic about the prospect of thousand of visitors at the height of the Ebola outbreak and so they decided to just sack the whole thing off.

CAF moved the tournament to Equatorial Guinea despite having previously booted them out of the competition for fielding ineligible players. It’s a country that I only became aware of  as a consequence of Mark Thatcher’s role in an attempted coup ten years or so ago. According to him, he initially thought he was funding an air ambulance rather than a crack team of mercenaries.  Easy mistake to make I suppose, if I drop a pound in a collecting tin I never check where it ends up.

I doubt I’ve given Equatorial Guinea a thought since then and whilst coup-worthy it may be, but it didn’t look like an ideal holiday destination. We changed our plans and headed for Namibia instead.

The trip began with a couple of nights in Windhoek where we picked up a Toyota Landcruiser from a local car hire place. I don’t think they realised that we had accommodation booked as there was enough gear loaded into the back to enable us to be self-sufficient for a month. Not only that, but we had a tent on the roof. I’m not sure which animals it was intended to provide an escape from, but it would have made us a nice height for a giraffe attack.

It would probably have flapped about a bit.

It would probably have flapped about a bit.

There was a market outside of our hotel where some of the stalls were run by Himba women. You might have heard of them, they are the ones who wander around Namibia with their knockers out and mud smeared all over them.

They managed to sell me far more tat than they’d have done if they’d kept their shirts on so it’s a worthwhile sales ploy, although I can’t imagine it catching on at Stockton Market. Mind you, there are probably some hipster parts of London where locals dress like that when nipping out on their penny farthing for a bowl of coco pops.

I didn't know where to look.

I didn’t know where to look.

I’d been checking out the football fixtures in the days prior to our arrival but they were being changed even more frequently than those in South Africa. It’s a constant source of irritation to find dates and venues switched a day or two before the game or even cancelled without any notice. I used to think we had it bad in England with Sky dictating changes six weeks or so before matches but I’d happily settle for that these days.

The latest mishap to hit Namibian football was the temporary closure of the Independence Stadium in Windhoek. That resulted in the cancelling of a game to which I had collected tickets just that morning and a subsequent reshuffling of the fixtures that, according to the press, would mean four back-to-back Saturday games at the Sam Nujoma stadium.

Watching four games in a row is a bit much even for me, but I was hoping that the heavy schedule would increase the chances of at least one of them actually happening. Jen and I found the stadium easily enough, although it took us a while to find the way in. The tickets cost thirty Namibian dollars, which is around £1.70. Not bad for a proposed four games.

The ticket office and turnstile.

The ticket office and turnstile.

One of the first things we noticed was a big hole in the concrete terracing opposite. I’d read about it in the paper that morning and the blame had been placed on heavy rain. The Namibian FA got a bit narky as well when questioned about it and whilst if I’d have been their press officer I wouldn’t have been able to resist telling the media that “We are looking into it”, the real spokesman went into a rant about journalists publishing negative stories. Maybe he had a point.  In a town full of nudey women there are better things to focus on.

It must have been some rainstorm.

It must have been some rainstorm.

Not surprisingly there weren’t any fans on the side of the ground with the hole. Actually there weren’t many more in the main covered stand where we were. It was early days though and with potentially four games over the next eight hours perhaps people were pacing themselves.

View from the VIP seats.

View from the VIP seats.

So, the game. Eleven Arrows, in a yellow strip with a very eighties pinstripe, opened the scoring after ten minutes. The Civics keeper chose to let a free-kick floated in to him to bounce off his chest rather than catching it and a somewhat surprised striker headed it straight back past him.

The away lead lasted only until a Civics fella found himself unmarked at the away back post and planted his header into an empty net. The subsequent double somersault celebration was far more impressive than the finish.

The score stayed level until five minutes from time when Eleven Arrows clinched victory with the third headed goal of the game. It was another floated free-kick into the box, but this time a striker got his head on it before the keeper had a chance to chest it out.

Goalmouth action.

Goalmouth action.

Events concluded with an Arrows sub taking so long to tie up his socks that the ref blew for full-time before he could get on to the pitch. He still ran on to join in the celebrations and post-match huddle as if he hadn’t spent the afternoon with his feet up on the bench. I was hoping he’d get Man of the Match. It’s likely he was hoping so too.

For what it’s worth the result was of little consequence, with both teams drifting in mid-table.

 

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3 Responses to “Civics v Eleven Arrows, Saturday 7th February 2015, 1.15pm”

  1. playfortoday Says:

    made me laugh at least twice..its about time you did some treking though

  2. www Says:

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