Regardless of the result in Saturday’s clash against the Boks, the Namibians are gearing up for a big party, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
The build-up to Saturday’s big World Cup clash between the Namiba and the Springboks is heading towards a big crescendo following a rather quiet start to the week in the local press, as well as the ‘gees’ on the streets of Windhoek.
By Friday a few blue rugby jerseys were spotted in and around the Namibian capital, while the front and back pages of the local newspapers were littered with articles about the big clash.
Rugby isn’t Namibia’s main sport, as football enjoys a lot more prominence, attention and participation. But the Welwitschias have now qualified for the last six World Cups and are improving with each passing one.
Namibia, now ranked 23rd in the world, won a lot of admirers when they asked a lot of questions of the All Blacks in their 2015 pool game, which they eventually lost 58-14. They also narrowly missed out on a win against Georgia in England, which would have been their first ever victory at the World Cup.
The last time Namibia faced the Boks in the World Cup they were soundly beaten 87-0 in the 2011 edition. It was a match remembered for Bryan Habana eclipsing the late, great Joost van der Westhuizen’s try-scoring record. Before that, the Boks beat Namibia 105-13 in a warm-up match at Newlands ahead of the 2007 World Cup.
So, it’s no surprise that the headline of the lead story of the Namibian newspaper on Friday was ‘It’s David vs Goliath at Yokohama City’.
The front page of the Afrikaans newspaper, Republikein, had a picture of wing Chad Plato, who scored in Namibia’s 47-22 defeat against Italy last Sunday, with the headline ‘REG VIR DIE BOKKE’ (Ready for the Boks).
In the sports pages of the paper, they had a lead story spread over two pages of the tabloid-size daily, with the headline loosely translated as ‘Students, businessmen, farmers against the Boks’.
Only seven players in the Namibian line-up are full-time professionals, while five players are students. The rest of the 23-man squad is made up of artisans, farmers and businessmen.
Danie Keulder, manager for sponsorships and events at Nambia Breweries Limited, the main sponsors of rugby in Namibia, says they expect waterholes around Windhoek to be packed by the time the clash kicks off at 11.45.
‘There are quite a few events happening around Windhoek around the rugby. There is a big one at the Wanderers sports club,’ Keulder said.
‘The time to open a beer is going to be a lot better than last week,’ he joked after Namibia’s opening match against Italy kicked off around 07.00 last Sunday.