African Stars’ rigorous pre-season preparations will be tested to the full when they take on Zambian champions Power Dynamos in the first leg preliminary round of the CAF Champions League in Dobsonville, Soweto on Saturday.
The Namibian league champions have been quite active in the transfer market as well as on the playing field over the past month to be in top shape for their African adventure.
The experienced Prince Koffie of Ghana was announced as their new head coach last month, taking over from Marvin Mbakera, who is now the assistant coach, while several new players were also recruited.
They include the exciting Zambian wingback Joseph Lungu, who joined from Zambian Premier Leage side Red Arrows; Nigerian midfielder Hammed Oyenyi from state league side Bariga Professional FC; and Namibian midfielder Denis Tjizumauje from Botswana Premier League side Township Rollers. Other new recruits from Namibia include two goalkeepers, Calvin Spiegel from Blue Waters and Vaitavera Tjatindi from Citizens, as well as Eleven Arrows midfielder Angelo Kuezi.
They join a star-stacked team including numerous Namibian internationals, as well as several other African players like Comoros national striker Ibroihim Youssouf; Nigerian striker Ibrahim Aliyuwho, who represented Nigeria at the 2019 u20 Afcon Championships; Nigerian midfielder Michael Okolo from Nigerian Premier League side Lobi Stars; and striker Peter Ernest Adiwoh from Ghanaian first division club Nzema Kotoko.
The Namibian national players include their midfield kingpin and one of Namibia’s most capped players, Ronald Ketjijere, who earlier this week was recalled by national coach Collin Benjamin to the Brave Warriors squad for their upcoming Afcon and World Cup qualifiers.
Other nationals include goalkeeper Kamaijanda Ndisiro; defenders Charles Hambira (also recalled to the Brave Warriors), Emilio Martin, Edmund Kambanda and Vitapi Ngaruka; and midfielders Immanuel Heita and Willy Stephanus, who hasnt been recalled to the national team despite strong support for him on social media following a great 2022/23 season that saw him finishing as the league’s top goalscorer, while he also won African Stars’ player of the season and players’ player of the season awards.
Stars recently lost the services of national midfielder Dynamo Fredericks who joined Botswana league champions Jwaneng Galaxy and national striker Joslin Kamatuka who joined South African first division side Maritzburg United, but they have a plethora of talented youngsters coming through and fighting for places in the starting lineup.
These include Joslin’s younger brother Edmar Kamatuka, who already made his senior debut for the Brave Warriors at the Cosafa Cup last month; midfielder Uetuuro Kambato, who was called up to the national training squad earlier this year, midfielder Owen Damaseb and striker Jackson Johannes.
In Prince Koffie they have an experienced coach who has coached Benin’s national team, while they have prepared meticulously for their CAF Champions League campaign.
They travelled to Botswana over the past month where they remained unbeaten in four friendlies, after beating Masitaoka FC 4-1, Gaborone United 3-0 and Township Rollers 2-0, and drawing 0-0 against Police XI. Last weekend they wrapped up their preparations with a goalless draw in Windhoek against Muza FC, who finished second in the Zambian Super League last season, and after the match Koffie said they were ready for their Champions League campaign.
“This game has given us an insight into what we can expect in the Champions League. We will make sure that we rehearse our strengths and also correct our weaknesses and then trust me we will be ready for Dynamos and make sure we eliminate them,” he said on African Stars’ Facebook page.
With Namibian stadiums still not up to standard to host international matches, Stars will now play their home game in Soweto on Saturday, while the return leg will take place at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe a week later.
The winner will face Tanzanian champions Simba SC in the first round, with the first leg due to take place on the weekend of 15 to 17 September.