Just as football followers were coming to terms with the shock passing of former Blue Waters, Manzini Wanderers and Namibia Football Association well decorated secretary-general Eliphas Aupapa Shipanga, another tragedy has befallen the Namibian football family for the umpteenth time.
Retired Benfica Football Club hard as nails defender Abraham Shomeya Sam-Ambiga succumbed to ill health whilst admitted to a Windhoek hospital on Wednesday evening. A one club man, the departed big frame fullback will be best remembered for his resolute defending ability during a successful playing career with the blue and strip Nomtsoub outfit Benfica Football Club.
Shomeya formed the spine of the fearless Benfica rearguard alongside the equally hard tackling trident of Karel Tatako Kanyemba, Puma Shinuna, Zacks Hangula and the cool as a cucumber football playing centre back Mahuna Iyambo.
Shomeya’s untimely death follows short on the heels of other prominent footballers who have gone the way of all flesh in the last few months: Alele Kapule, Martin Veiko, Seadog Kuhanga, Rep Kanjaa, Reinhardt Gaseb, Karakura Katjita, Erich Muinjo, Juku Tjazuko, Peter Henkel, Karl-Heiz Steinfurth, Charles Ngozu, Eleazer ‘Zorro’ Haoseb and Aupapa ‘Bazooka’ Shipanga. May their souls rest in power collectively.
Just before Namibia attained her long overdue democracy in 1990, the mining town of Tsumeb, holed up in the vastly populated Oshikoto region, boasted top football teams plying their trade in the country’s topflight football league, the eight team Namibia Soccer Super League (NSSL) between 1985 and 1990.
The Nomtsoub outfit were founding members of the breakaway league alongside fellow northerners Chelsea (Grootfontein), the coastal pair of Blue Waters and Eleven Arrows (Walvis Bay), as well as the quartet of the famously known ‘Katutura Big Four’: African Stars, Black Africa, Orlando Pirates and Tigers (Windhoek).
Despite having to play second fiddle to their illustrious neighbours Chief Santos for the better part of the club’s existence, the ambitious blue and white strip side had overtaken Santos in stature at the time of the formation of the rebel league. Benfica were considered and rightly so, as one of the most difficult opponents to face in the business.
‘Fika’, as the team was affectionately known amongst its ardent followers, were a formidable force to be reckoned with and made their mark in the country’s flagship football competitions, notably in the popular lucrative knockout cup competitions.
With the dangerous Uushona brothers Daddy, Packs and Lovey, sporadically joined by their equally dangerous ageing old man Tommy Uushona in the firing line, rattling the opposition net at will, ‘Fika’ boasted a well-balanced team with the highly gifted pair of big frame midfielders Licky Gideon and Draka Shetekela, effortlessly pulling the strings in the middle of the park with breathtaking virtuosity.
However, it was the team’s backline that instilled devastating fear in the opposition with the imposing ever present Bro Shomeya in the thick of things. A mean man marker and tough tackler, Bro Shomeya took no prisoners as can be attested by the dozens of salted attackers who dreaded coming face to face with the strongly built defender.
The tough tackling defender would go on to enjoy unsurpassed success with ‘Fika’ during an illustrious playing career. He was on the winning side when tournament underdogs Benfica surprised friend and foe to dispatch pre-tournament favourites Black Africa in the dreaded penalty shootout following a goalless draw after regulation time in the lucrative Metropolitan Life Cup final at the Windhoek stadium in 1987.
Meanwhile, messages of condolences continued to pour in on social media: “Oh, Shomeya, may your soul rest in peace” reads a Facebook post from fellow retired footie Uushona Hiskia...” Go in peace brother Shomeya, God be with you,” reads another message from Blue Waters FC long serving team manager Tostao Imbili... “I viewed the body at the hospital bed and realized that he was gone forever. He was sleeping peacefully in his hospital bed, my brother ST Shomeya, rest in peace forever, loved by your favourite sister,” wrote Josephine Indongo... “Aai man Mbuti Shomeya, RIP,” said homeboy Lesley Kandombo... “Rest in peace friend,” Simon Aaron Gaeb... “Peaceful and indeed a beautiful soul, a man to respect, MHSRIP,” Nangula Ileka... “May he rest in peace,” Andrew Dukso ... “Go in peace brother Shomeya, God be with you,” wrote well known coastal socialite and veteran trade unionist Daniel Slugger Imbili... “Go well my friend RIP,” wrote midfield general Hafeni ‘Teenage’ Mwashekele... “RIP my brother, my condolences to the family and friends,” Vilho Nanyoka... “My friend, Eish, I can’t recount our countless on the field battles between Black Africa and Benfica. You were humble and a true loyal servant of the game especially your beloved Benfica. Go well ST I will really miss you,” posted former BA and Brave Warriors big frame attacker Dawid Snewe.
Former Benfica inspirational skipper Mahuna Iyambo confirmed to New Era Sport that the departed Shomeya will be laid to rest in his home town Tsumeb on Saturday, 25 March 2021. May his soul rest easy.