The untold football journey of Conrad ‘The Horse’ Angula … aka ‘Safari’
Former Chief Santos flying winger Conrad “Safari” Angula is better known as a veteran sports scribe, but many are not fully aware of his amazing exploits on the football field during his younger days in the copper mining town of Tsumeb, back in the day.
“Safa” or “Safari”, as Conrad was commonly known during his football playing days, was a devastating left winger with leading Nomtsoub outfit Chief Santos.
He was in the starting line-up when Santos endured heartbreaking back-to-back defeats in major domestic cup finals in Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek in 1984 and 1985, respectively.
The visitors were sent packing by Justice Basson’s inspired Hungry Lions Football Club (1-0) in the final of the popular Easter tournament and subsequently succumbed to a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the rampant Ramblers side in the Mainstay Cup final the following year. However, the nimble-footed “Safa” was to play a pivotal role in Santos’ unavoidable promotion to the more competitive breakaway Namibia Super Soccer League (NSSL) in 1986.
WINDHOEK – Born in the copper mining town of Tsumeb, “Safari” grew up playing street football in the multi-cultural Nomtsoub residential area, which was the norm back in the day in the absence of recreational facilities for the previously disadvantaged natives.
Also known as “The Horse” amongst his circles of peers, the skinny tricky left-footed winger was a football genius, blessed with a deadly shot from any range. He started out with unfashionable youthful outfit Black Arrows FC and would occasionally also turn out for Grootfontein side Kaizer Chiefs during the school holidays.
He rose to prominence when he was selected for the star-studded Oshikoto Senior Secondary School football team where he was one of the team’s most valuable squad members.
In the meantime, “Safa” would regularly feature as guest player for colourful Arandis outfit Kaizer Chiefs, playing alongside flamboyant afro-haired stocky playmaker Fenn Glay and also had a short stint with local side Eleven Tigers Football Club.
Unlike many of his peers who started their football careers out in Santos’ second strings, “Safa” walked straight into the star-studded squad of the green and orange outfit, partnering with evergreen net buster Celle Auchumeb, Freddy Guibeb, Mannetjie Neidel and Pieces Damaseb in the team’s firing line.
A highly gifted winger, the fairly young “Safa” possessed multiple football skills second to none, amazing pace, packed a great shot and could effortlessly manoeuvre his way past a cluster of robust defenders with relative ease.
Such was his eye-catching performance that Katutura glamour football club African Stars came knocking on his door for his signature. Reds’ chief architect Oscar Mengo, a big admirer of the Copper Town jam, had his eyes on “Safa”. “Sure, it’s true Stars were very keen on luring me to Windhoek....but eish, it was a complicated issue. Firstly, I was desperate to finish matric before relocating to the city of bright lights. Secondly, there was this general perception that Stars were sleeping in the same bed with the much despised ‘puppet’ political party DTA, especially given the club’s political inheritance ... let alone the perfectly matching colours of the two entities (red, white and blue).”
“That was in fact the main reason why I declined their advances, otherwise I would have really liked to play alongside the great Oscar Mengo and the other great players in the squad – they really had a well-balanced brilliant team with arguably the best last line of defence in the shape of goalkeeper Jiva Kauami,” relates “Safa” tongue-in-cheek.
In the interim, young “Safa” was duly voted the club’s most improved player of the year alongside fellow youngster Oggies !Naruseb in only his second season in topflight football in 1982.
He went on to represent Santos with flying colours in several knockout cup tournaments, scoring the winning goal against Orlando Pirates in the cup final match in 1983.
Santos were a great deal indebted to the flying winger’s immense contribution when the Copper Town lads won back-to-back league titles in the highly competitive Far Northern Football League in 1982 and 1983 respectively.
He also boasts two runner-up medals from the annual Easter Cup and Mainstay Cup finals, which saw them losing to giant killing Katutura outfit Hungry Lions (1-0) and Ramblers (4-0) in that sequence. In 1986, Santos won a series of low-key knockout cup tourneys in the football-crazy maize triangle (Tsumeb, Otavi and Grootfontein) as well as Otjiwarongo, Outjo and Khorixas.
Despite his relatively young age, “Safa” was amongst the senior players when Santos toured the Mother City (Cape Town) in 1986 for a month-long series of exhibition matches against top local clubs in preparation for the NSSL promotion play-offs.
The Copper Town lads finally won promotion to the rebel league NSSL, brushing aside the likes of Sorento Bucks and other tough opponents to take their rightful place alongside newcomers Hungry Lions, Young Ones and Explorer Eleven as the new league was extended to 12 teams from the maiden eight-team league.
Unbelievably, Santos finished runner-up in the country’s topflight football league in their debut season, narrowly falling short one point behind eventual winners Black Africa in 1986.
“Safa” briefly left Santos for local rivals Benfica in 1983 but did not last long and as the prodigal son was soon back in familiar territory.
He finally relocated to Windhoek upon completing his high school education and joined forces with Donkerhoek outfit Tigers in the National Super Soccer League in 1988 but soon left – only to resurface at township rivals Black Africa.
Sadly, a career ending challenge by new teammate Fighter Louis during a practice session abbreviated any further interest in playing competitive football at the highest level. The likeable dribbling wizard was forced to call it quits while still at the pinnacle of his flourishing football career. He became player-coach at second tier outfit African Blizzards, steering the club to a historic victory in the B-section of the lucrative Metropolitan Cup. Blizzards saw off a stubborn Tseiblaagte outfit Try Again in a hotly contested final at the Windhoek stadium in 1988.
Apart from his football exploits, “Safa” was a formidable sprinter at school and was the undisputed champion in the both the 100m and 200m sprints. He was deservedly rewarded with the prestigious Victor Ludorum accolade in 1981.
2020-03-27 10:29:02 | 2 months ago