Namibian football is a great deal indebted to former Brave Warriors head coach, the late Theodore “Ted” Dumitru.
The short fused football genius might have ruffled feathers with local football authorities whilst his relationship with media practitioners was also not a bed of roses but the uncompromising Romania certainly left his mark in the history of Namibian football despite his abbreviated turbulent stint with the national senior football team. Blessed with a sharp eye for raw talent, Ted arrived in the land of the Brave tasked to rebuild a disjointed team with some of the old guard getting a bit long in the tooth while the bulk of the squad members fell out of favour with football authorities in the aftermath of a boycott over bonuses, which ultimately led to their omission from the squad.
Dumitru, did what his predecessors failed to execute, as he single handedly went on aggressive talent identification campaign in the outlying areas of the country.
In no time, the sharp eyed Romanian unearthed highly gifted center back, one Maleagi Ngarizemo, speedy winger Mogale Naruseb from the Omaheke Region. The pair were joined by two highly gifted youngsters from Mariental in the shape of Dumisa Jantze and Sidney Plaatjies, and as they say, the rest is history. New Era Sport caught up with the much traveled Plaatjies, as he relives his long and winding football journey that took him beyond the borders of his native land to South Africa, Angola and Vietnam – making him Namibia’s most traveled athlete.
WINDHOEK – Born Sidney Plaatjies in the Southern town of Mariental on the 25th of November 1981, “Sithos” as the left footed footballer was known amongst his circle of friends was just like many other young boys his age – football crazy.
Blessed with a delicious left foot, the tallish light skinned boy from Aimablaagte turned professional at the ripe age of 26.
He joined forces with Johannesburg outfit Jomo Cosmos Football Club campaigning in the stinking rich South African Professional Soccer League (PSL) before moving to the mega rich Mamelodi Sundowns to be reunited with the man who has discovered him.
If there was one coach who could get the best out of the highly talented but often misunderstood temperamental winger, that man is without a shadow of doubt the great football philosopher Ted Dumitru – May his soul rest in eternal peace.
Sithos started playing football in the lower ranks with amateur club Refugees FC before being snapped by coastal giants Blue Waters.
It was whilst at the seasiders that Sithos was to establish himself as a vital cog in the Birds’ firing line pulling the strings alongside the equally dangerous pair of Wire Shipanga and veteran striker Armando Pedro.
The trident were bamboozling defenders at will making Omeya the most exciting side to watch and the envy of the neutral football fan.
Sithos made his debut for the Warriors as 19-years old rookie but despite his fairly young age, he quickly warmed himself into the hearts of the usually hard to please Warriors followers who took a liking to strongly built winger.
Unlike many wingers, whose tasks are to run along the line and deliver crosses into the penalty box, Sithos was your typical modern winger in the mould of Manchester United great Ryan Giggs.
A phenomenal dribbler, he also packed a decent shot in his educated left boot and was a menace to many opposing goalkeepers.
Sithos made his debut for the Brave Warriors against Zambia’s Chipolopolo under the stewardship of the late Dumitru in 2000 and went onto manufacture an amazing tally of 38 caps for the Namibian senior football team.
He played a pivotal role when the Brave Warriors surprised friend and foe to qualify for their second appearance at Africa’s biggest showpiece, the prestigious Afcon finals in Ghana in 2008 at the expense of the Democratic Republic of Congo and old time campaigners, Ethiopia.
He was a valuable member of the gutsy Warriors squad during their campaign in Ghana where the team suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of Morocco before dusting themselves off to stretch hosts Ghana to the limit only to lose to a late Michael Essien lone strike.
The Warriors followed up with a well-deserved 1-all draw against Guinea in Sekudi but Plaatjies was omitted from the match day squad.
The introvert winger forgot his match day spare playing jersey in his hotel room in Accra – much to the dismay of the Warriors technical staff, who already had an axe to grind with him after he overslept and missed a training session the previous day.
The much traveled winger also had stints with fallen Soweto giants Moroka Swallows and Mpumalanga Black Aces in the highly rated South African Professional Soccer League (PSL).
His next stop was neigbouring Angola where he featured for leading Angolan club Kabuscorp du Palanca before moving abroad to join Vietnam giants Dong Thap HTCS in that country’s topflight football league.
In the intervening years, Sithos returned home to wind up his much fulfilled marathon football career with exciting Mondesa outfit PC Blue Boys Football Club from Swakopmund in the highly competitive MTC