Windhoek - The brightest and the best of today’s Namibian footballers are staking their claim to superstardom in South Africa’s Super Diski, the continent’s richest soccer league.
While several Namibians earn their keep in the SA Premier Soccer League, Deon Hotto, Virgil Vries and Ananias Gebhardt have been enjoying particularly purple patches.
Bidvest Wits winger Hotto is having the time time of his life both on and off the pitch.
Prior to his club’s 1-0 win over title-chasing Mamelodi Sundowns last Sunday, Hotto was unveiled as a brand ambassador for German sportswear giants Adidas.
“Attitude is everything in life. Your attitude determines your altitude and I have been blessed based on my attitude. Thanks to Adidas for believing in me and making me the first Namibian to ever become a formal ambassador of the brand. To more growth together,” Hotto tweeted, adding images of Namibia’s flag and shots of himself decked in the three-striped brand.
The Namibia international is reportedly set to move to Adidas-sponsored Orlando Pirates at the end of the season, with reports emerging that he will more than double his monthly pay cheque to R500,000.
Hotto’s national teammate Vries has also triggered a buzz by helping Swallows FC gain promotion to the PSL.
But that’s not the whole story.
When Vries signed for Kaizer Chiefs in 2018, his dream of playing for one of the top clubs in Africa became a reality.
That dream, however, quickly turned into a nightmare with the ‘keeper being involved in some high-profile errors that ended in termination of his contract after just one season.
Vries dusted himself down and joined second/tier Swallows in the middle of the 2019/20 season, where he not only helped the team win the First Division title, but where he also finished the season as the goalkeeper with most clean sheets in the league.
“It’s all about the mentality. What happened at Kaizer Chiefs is over. I don’t want to talk about Chiefs, I am now a Swallows player and I am appreciated here. I am happy,” he said.
And then there is the case of the player that Sundowns fans love to hate - Ananias Gebhardt of Baroka.
Going into matchday 28, Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns were tied on 53 points and separated only by goal difference.
When Hotto’s Bidvest clinched a late winner against Chiefs in an earlier kickoff, it opened the way for Sundowns to pull clear when they faced Gebhardt’s Baroka.
Gebhardt’s well-placed header in the early minutes of the game was enough to condemn Sundowns to a morale-sapping defeat.
Sundowns fans are still seething and Chiefs fans are singing Gebhardt’s praises.
Gebhardt extended his stay with Baroka by another 12 months at the start of the seasons and his goal could prove vital in the club’s quest to avoid relegation.