NFA Cup is back

Jairus Shilongo of Civics action against Ibroihim Youssouf of African Stars. File photo

One of Namibia’s flagship football competitions, the NFA Cup, will return next month after an absence of three years.

The NFA Cup was launched shortly after Namibia’s independence in 1990 and consistently took place for the next two decades.

It, however, did not take place in 2012 or 2016, and over the past six years it was only held twice due to leadership battles within the NFA, which impacted negatively on footballing activities.

The last NFA Cup competition was sponsored by MTC in 2021 when Civics beat Mighty Gunners 3-2 in the final, while the one before that took place in 2018, with Debmarine Namibia as sponsors, when African Stars beat Unam 1-0 in the final.

The NFA announced on Wednesday that it had secured a sponsorship for this year’s competition, which will only be announced on 1 March, when the sponsorship agreement will be signed.

Namibia Football Association (NFA) president Robert Shimooshili yesterday confirmed the news, saying it was just a one-year contract, but that the competition would continue with another sponsor after that.

“We already secured a three-year sponsorship for the NFA Cup from 2025, so it was not easy to get a sponsor for just this year, but we managed to do that.

“I’m very happy with those who are responding positively to ensure that all our competitions are active. We appreciate them,” he said.

It has been rumoured that betting company PstBet will sponsor this year’s competition, but Shimooshili did not want to comment.

“We agreed not to disclose the content of the sponsorship until the official announcement is made,” he said.

Shimooshili said a leadership vacuum had impacted negatively on sponsorships in recent years.

“I think it was difficult to get sponsorships in the past because there was no substantive leadership in place.

“I think the sponsors didn’t want to support football, because no one was accountable for the sponsorships – there was a leadership vacuum,” he said.

Shimooshili, however, said the NFA’s image has improved lately, most notably due to Namibia’s fine performance at the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 when they reached the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time.

“Our image has improved, and we would like to appreciate the people. The interest in football is picking up, and we, the leaders, must not disappoint the fans, who are our main stakeholders.

“We need to be accountable in line with corporate governance, transparency and ethical conduct – these are the key factors we must adhere to at all times,” he said.

The preliminary rounds of the NFA Cup, which will include first and second division teams throughout the country, will commence over the weekends of 9 to 10 March, and 16 to 17 March, while the Premier League teams will join the action with the first round proper on 6 and 7 April.

The knockout rounds will continue through April and May, with the NFA Cup final scheduled to take place on 25 May.

A total of 238 teams throughout Namibia will participate in this year’s competition, comprising 16 premier league teams, 36 first-division teams, and 186 second-division teams.

This year’s competition will also break new ground as a women’s competition has been incorporated for the first time.

NFA vice president Murs Markus says this is in line with their aim of promoting women’s football.

“It’s a historic occasion for the association, because it’s the first time that a women’s competition has been included in the NFA Cup.

“The executive committee wants to bring women’s football on par with men’s football, so we decided that all competitions should incorporate a women’s category as well,” he says.

Markus, meanwhile, says the Southern Stream First Division will resume on 2 March, following a delay due to the postponement of some Black Africa matches and their subsequent suspension from the league.

“Black Africa is currently under suspension, but the NFA’s disciplinary committee will make a ruling on the case next week. They will decide whether BA will forfeit the points or whether the matches would have to be replayed, but that will not affect the NFA Cup, and Black Africa will also compete in that,” Markus says.

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