Eeshoke Chula Chula are determined to show that their spectacular entrance into the Debmarine Namibia Premiership at Oshakati Independence Stadium on Saturday is not a once-off.
The top flight novices introduced themselves with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Mighty Gunners in front of a sold-out audience crammed into Oshakati Independence Stadium.
Never in Namibian football history has a club coming from the first division commanded a crowd of that magnitude, let alone the established names in the Namibia Premier Football League.
Only champions African Stars can boast attracting fans in similar numbers at some of their games.
Chula Chula claim that 17 275 fans packed into the stadium with a capacity of 8 000, causing an almighty debate in football circles.
While the figure is debatable, what is not questionable is that Chula Chula appear to have done something right in attracting the numbers to the match.
The spine-tingling atmosphere generated by the 12th man made a difference on and off the pitch, the 2022/23 North-East First Division champions’ head coach, John Sikerete, says.
“The huge crowd also made the boys a little bit nervous in the first half, and we could not manage pressure from the crowd, but in the second half we came back strong,” he says.
With admission at N$30, Chula Chula scored N$518 250 from gate takings if their attendance number is accurate.
In the event that 8 000 fans paid to watch the entertaining clash, they still made a healthy N$240 000 for their coffers.
“After the match the boys were all relaxed and we drove back to the camp, and the mood in the camp is going good.
“The supporters are still enjoying the win. It is really something marvellous if you look at the turnout at the stadium, it was impressive,” Sikerete says.
“They played very attractive football, which we try to work on every day to at least try and attract a huge number of spectators to come and watch.”
With all seats taken, many enthusiastic supporters could be seen hogging the fence guarding the playing perimeter, while hundreds more who were not allowed into the stadium lived the moment in the scorching sun from outside.
Hailing from Eeshoke daMbidi village near Oshikango in the Ohangwena region, the club brought much-needed relief to football lovers deprived of premier league level action in the north.
Angula Nghifindaka, an astute follower of ‘the people’s game’ from Omafo, was among those who added to the captivating atmosphere at Oshakati Independence Stadium.
“We really need sporting games in the north. People from all the northern towns came out in numbers just to witness this match, which clearly shows we need more sport development in the north,” he says.
“Usually on a Sunday afternoon, we would be sitting around shebeens indulging in alcohol because we have nothing to do, but today we did something different. We had fun watching the games. It was really a great day and the games were great too,” Nghifindaka says.
Commenting on the match, Sikerete says his charges made a commendable start to life in the top flight.
His side is relatively young, but showed patience and resilience to overcome Mighty Gunners who consistently finish in the premier division’s top four.
“They will give you a little of what you want and what you expect, but then they always improve and come back and give you what you expect of them,” he says.
The challenge now is to improve on that performance, especially when they play away from home, he says.
“The main objective is to keep the team in the premier league and expect to end at least at a position that is reasonable. Looking at the way things stand and the current situation in the country, anything is possible,” Sikerete says.
The way in which Chula Chula went about to get a positive opening fixture result has inevitably created expectations in the football public, he says.
It would also greatly help the team morale as they settle into elite division football, which, in turn, would ensure their vociferous supporters remain behind them.
“We are proud of them. The boys did well because of the supporters, and we will not disappoint if you always come in numbers,” Sikerete says.
“That’s why the fans came out in large numbers. It’s a good sign, and it is something we can expect in the long run, and we will give them good results,” he says.
Chula Chula’s next assignments are away to Julinho Sporting at Rundu on Saturday and Life Fighters at Otjiwarongo on Sunday.