Namibia: Fernando Simao – Remembering the ‘Cabinda Beast’

Namibia’s oldest football club Tigers, has a stinking rich history of importing highly gifted footballers from neighbouring countries, notably from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in that sequence.

Those that spring to mind are; Zeka Malunga, Tony Belange, Paolo Ndjamba, Boniface ‘Papi’ Matingou and in recent years versatile Tanzanian box-to-box midfielder Lubigisa Lubigisa. Nonetheless, none has caught the imagination of the neutral fan other than the strongly built versatile defender Fernando Simao.

The much adored Angolan refugee brought a certain measure of stability in the fragile Ingwe’s rearguard, marshalling the back four with great aplomb alongside club stalwarts Kumi ‘Kanniedood’ Umati, Metuu Hipondoka, Alex ‘Kanjungu Koura’ Kapenaina, Mendoza Mundjanima and the ageing pair of Abnery Tobias-Angula and Scalla Shaanika.

As the oldest football club in Namibia, Tigers will always be associated with the history of domestic football. ‘Ingwe’ formed an integral part of the first ever mixed race football league in apartheid South West Africa (SWA) in 1977.

And even though the Donkerhoek outfit had little success in the infant stages of the new league, ‘Ingwe’ came to life when eight of the country’s top teams broke ties with the autocratic South West Africa Football Association (Swafa) to form the rebel National Super Soccer League (NSSL) IN 1985.

It was only fitting that ‘Ingwe’, as the big brother took the lead by clinching the coveted league title in the maiden edition of the breakaway league. By this time, the squad was boosted by the presence of several youngsters succeeding the hastily departed Angolan refugees spearheaded by the stylish Zenga Malunga, Juju Joao and the strongly built centre back Fernando Simao.

The calculated big frame Simao, caught the eye with breathtaking defending and endurance second to none week in and week out as he masterfully marshalled the rock steady ‘Wall of Donkerhoek’, his sudden departure left a big void in Ingwe’s rearguard.

Under his leadership, ‘Ingwe’ became a much feared outfit reminiscent of the old timers side that used to torment opponents with football brutality during the late sixties, gorgeously shepherded by the terrible firing line of the late quartet of Times Mwetuyela, Zebulon Honnie Ochurub, Ferdinand ‘Ferre’ Akwenye and diminutive playmaker, the pocket-size Dakaloh Haininga.

Such was Simao’s influence that he was rewarded with the captain’s armband for his near faultless display as his status grew in leaps and bounds at his adopted home to the extent that he was given the freedom of both Donkerhoek and the intimidating Shadumbla sections, holed up in the vastly populated Ovambo location, north of Namibia’s largest residential area Katutura.

A fearless defender, Simao was blessed with a big engine, always calm under pressure, good in aerial duels and could also weigh in with the odd goal whenever the situation demanded. The likeable Angolan refugee endeared himself not only into the hearts of Ingwe’s diehards but was also much adored by the neutral fans.

Club stalwart, former President of the South West Africa Football Federation (Swafa) Elliot ‘Oom Paul’ Hiskia, younger brother of the mysteriously departed football legend Simon Sising Hiskia, the old man of both Uushona, Oscar and Brenda Hisika, as well as local socialites Brown Amwenye jr, took the Angolan defender under his wing at his residence.

Simao would go onto represent ‘Ingwe’ with great aplomb and will go in history as one of the finest foreign footballers to have graced local pitches with a great measure of distinction.

Sadly, the big Angolan developed itchy feet and left his adopted land in a hush in 1983…only to resurface in neighbouring Botswana, where he would fall foul of law authorities, as an illegal emigrant, thus obliging his foster father Elliot Hiskia to intervene. The wide awake Oom Paul masterminded his release from incarnation but Simao had no desire to return to his adopted land of the Brave.

He took the brave step and wangled his way across the giant Atlantic Ocean only to find refuge in the United States of America (USA). Though he arrived in the USA as a broke penniless refugee, in no time, the much adored big frame Angolan managed against all odds staked against his refugee status and miraculously carved himself a successful career as an astute businessman and currently lives comfortably in Los Angeles (LA).

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