Haukongo on his way to full recovery
By Michael Uugwanga
OUNG Namibian footballer Lubeni Haukongo (20), who plays club football in France for Lille LOSC reserve team, is close to full recovery after being out of action for nearly a year.
Lille LOSC plays in the French Professional League, known simply as Lique 1, while Lille LOSC reserve team plays in the Championnat National 2, commonly known as National 2 and formerly known as Championnat de France Amateur (CFA), a league competition that serves as the fourth tier of the French football league system.
Haukongo joined Lille LOSC in January last year from Namibia Premier League (NPL) side Eleven Arrows from Walvis Bay after impressing Lille’s management at the U-19 football tournament held in Morocco in 2018.
Haukongo was part of Namibia’s U-17 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) winning side in 2016 in Madagascar, and only has one national team call-up to the Brave Warriors squad against Lesotho in 2018 in Windhoek in an international friendly match.
Lille is also home to Mozambique-born left back ReinildoIsnard Mandava, who plays in the first team. Arsenal attacker Nicholas Pepe is a former player at the club before a big-money move to the Emirates stadium last year.
The French Lique ended prematurely last month due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw log leaders Paris Saint-Germain controversially awarded the title. The ending of the season gives Haukongo and other injured players enough time to recover for next season.
In an exclusive interview with Confidente Sport Desk, Haukongo said he had missed lots of football, a major setback in his sporting career.
“I am recovering very well indeed, which is a big bonus for me as I have enough time to recover after the league was ended due to Covid-19. I got injured since early last year with the same injury exchanging on both legs. It is quad muscle (rectus femoris) tear injury.
“Hopefully [I will be] fit next season. Since I have been inactive for a very long time, there has been no progress from my side, so I did not stand any chance of being called up to the Brave Warriors squad, but definitely in the near future. I am always in contact with coach Timothy Tjongarero, who coached me at the 2016 COSAFA cup,” said Haukongo.
Haukongo is best friend to current Brave Warriors left back and former club mate at Eleven Arrows, Aprocius ‘Kalefa’ Petrus, who has already played few games for the Brave Warriors. Haukongo who is also left-footed like his pal, Petrus, prefers to play in the central defence, as he does at his club.
He has been keeping himself fit in isolation as part of the social distancing precautions set up by his club. “Kalefa is a very good and strong player with too much potential to play in Europe. I think a player of his calibre is a rare breed in our country. I am training a lot on my own, looking after my diet, learning new skills,” said the Swakopmund-born player.
Former Brave Warriors coach, Ricardo Mannetti who gave Haukongo his first cap against Lesotho, highly rated the center back as one of the best in the position and back him to take over the position in the near future.
“Our aim why we introduced Haukongo and Petrus in the national team at an early age was create depths in the near future, unlike what the previous coaches failed to do in the past such as when you look after the African Cup of Nations (AFCO) in 1998, it took us 10 years to qualify to the AFCON in 2008. Haukongo is left footed and it is very rare to fight a left-footed center back. He is one for the future,” said Mannetti.