By Carlos Kambaekwa
MTC Namibia Premier League defending champions Civics suffered their second league defeat this season when Helmuth Sharnowsky’s struggling charges went down by 2 goals to nil against a fired-up African Stars at the Ramblers Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.
The Reds replaced the Civilians in the top five and the victory moved them within two points of log leaders KM Eleven Arrows, Ramblers, Sport Klub Windhoek and Black Africa, who are all sitting on 13 points after completion of round seven, last weekend.
The Civilians dropped further down the pecking order and are now finding themselves in unfamiliar territory – sixth on the MTC Namibia Premiership log standings – three points adrift of title-chasing Arrows, Ramblers, Africa and SKW.
SKW kept their unbeaten run in the league this season following a hard fought 1- 0 win over the star-studded but troubled Orlando Pirates outfit at the SKW Stadium under floodlights on Friday.
Coastal outfit Eleven Arrows leapfrogged Ramblers into first place on the MTC Namibia Premiership log standings on goal average after the gold and maroon outfit dispatched Oshakati City by a solitary goal at the Kuisebmond Stadium on Saturday.
Following their humiliating defeat at the hands of Ramblers in the final of the FNB Knock-out Cup Challenge less than a fortnight ago, Black Africa dusted themselves off and recorded a comprehensive 4-2 victory over league rookies Fedics United in their own backyard at the Keetmanshoop Stadium on Saturday, to keep their title hopes alive.
Elsewhere, struggling APS Blue Waters’ winless league campaign this season continued after the erstwhile glamour club of domestic football failed to collect maximum points for the umpteenth time.
The low-flying Birds could not spread their wings further than a dull goalless draw against league rookies Mighty Gunners at the Mokati Stadium in Otjiwarongo on Saturday.
Nonetheless, the point gained from their encounter against Gunners, their fourth draw in the league this season, lifted the coastal outfit off the foot of the table and saw the Birds exchanging places with fellow strugglers Fedics United, who have now taken residence at the basement.
As it stands, the race for the coveted cup remains wide open with any of the teams in the top eight having a mathematical chance of laying their hands on the lucrative first prize – come end of the season.
After years of carrying the near team tag, Ramblers appear to have come out of their shell and the Tunchel Street Boys looks serious contenders to wrestle the elusive title away from the Khomasdal-based team, who are now a pale shadow of the once feared Civilians.
Gutsy SKW surprised friend and foe this season with the little bit of help from average footballers – the bulk of them rejects and bench-warmers at their respective former clubs, but in Richard Starke the Germans have one of the shrewdest football brains in domestic football.
Starke has turned a bunch of no hopers into a formidable outfit coupled with the sort of discipline and fighting spirit only seen in the German Bundesliga, and in skipper Marco van Wyk the Germans certainly have one of those rare footballers who possess the ability to win games on their own.
Despite their early good showing, both Black Africa and KM Eleven Arrows look unlikely to go all the way with the former lacking depth in playing personnel while the latter’s patchy away form could prove to be their worst enemy.
The Germans, together with traditional rivals Ramblers, are best placed to be crowned MTC Namibia Premiership champions at the end of the 2007/2008 season.
Outsiders African Stars and Orlando Pirates could still sneak in at the last hurdle – provided both teams start shaking off their inconsistencies, which have seen them claiming the scalps of the big guns only to turn generous against opponents of lesser calibre.
Dawid Snewe’s men in uniform moved within a point of seventh placed Orlando Pirates and Tigers after last weekend’s stalemate against Blue Waters and are now equal on 7 points with 9th placed Oshakati City.
At the foot of the table, things are not looking exactly rosy for former Champions APS Blue Waters and league rookies Fedics United.
Both teams are perched on four points out of a possible 21, with the dreaded relegation axe hovering dangerously over the pair.
Eleven Arrows and Black Africa are the only teams in the league so far to have notched up the highest number of wins, four to be precise, with Blue Waters yet to register their first win of the current campaign while City, Gunners and United each tasted victory once.
Pirates and Tigers were twice on the winning side with Ramblers, SKW and Stars all having won three times. Ramblers have netted the highest number of goals (12), with United having conceded a worrisome 18 goals – an average of 2.5 goals per match – while Arrows’ watertight defence conceded the least number of goals (3). SKW’s goal-shy strikers could only find the opposition’s net on five occasions.