By Carlos Kambaekwa
It may be premature to claim that current MTC Namibia Premiership log leaders Ramblers are destined for their first league title since the era of Gary Sales’ all conquering side of 1992.
However, if the team’s recent showing in both the league and cup matches is anything to go by, then the self proclaimed football gurus cannot be faulted for tipping Rammies to be crowned Champions of Namibia on completion of the 2007/2008 league campaign.
The perennial underachievers of domestic football have finally come of age this season with some splendid displays that have already seen the FNB Christmas Cup finding a new home in the heavily decorated Ramblers trophy cabinet at Tunchel Street in Pionierspark.
Ramblers are currently sitting on top of the log standings with 22 points from a possible 33 and have only lost once this season, but can still take solace from the fact that their only league defeat this season came at the hands of defending champions Civics.
Such is the intensity and complexity of the challenge for the coveted title this season that anyone of the top nine teams can still claim the elusive title, with SKW, Black Africa, Tigers, Orlando Prates, Eleven Arrows, Civics, African Stars and to a lesser extent, Oshakati City all potential title contenders at this stage.
History will recall that only those teams with depth in their playing personnel would be up there when the going gets tough, and this is exactly why pundits are tapping Ramblers and Orlando Pirates as forerunners for the coveted title – come end of the season.
Ramblers welcome relegation-threatened Fedics United and a likely comprehensive win over the Keetmanshoopers should put the Tunchel Street boys firmly in the driving seat and on course for a treble, as Rammies still harbour serious ambitions of adding the lucrative MTC NFA Cup to the FNB Xmas Cup – already in the Club’s trophy cabinet.
With closest rivals, SKW, Black Africa and Pirates likely to drop some valuable points this weekend , Ramblers could stretch their lead at the top of table to 5 points at the expense of United who are yet to record an away win since their arrival in top flight football at the beginning of the season.
The league rookies are perched at the basement of the MTC Namibia Premier League with a paltry 4 points out of a possible 33, and remain definite candidates for the dreaded relegation axe at the end of the current league campaign.
Fedics’ promotion to top-flight football appears to be an exercise in futility and a miserable run of only one win in eleven matches has left the Southerners in danger of making a quick retreat to the second tier of domestic football.
In tomorrow’s other action, second placed SKW, still smarting from last weekend’s defeat at the hands of Ramblers, their first of the season, will be out to restore some lost pride when the Germans hosts 9th placed Oshakati City at the SKW stadium (16h00).
Elsewhere, Eleven Arrows entertain a wounded African Stars outfit at the Kuisebmond Stadium in Walvis-Bay (18h00).
The Reds became the first casualties of APS Blue Waters’ resurgence at the same venue in their last league outing and what makes the match more intriguing is the fact that Stars are on a mission to avenge their first round home defeat against the Maroon & Gold coastal outfit.
Stars mentor Gilbert Rwasoka is still very much eying the much sought after league title, despite his team being seven points off the pace of log leaders Ramblers.
“You may recall that we still have a game in hand and that match is winnable which could move us within three points of the log leaders,” boasted the Zimbabwean national, obviously referring to Stars’ outstanding first round match against Black Africa.
The Reds welcome back midfield dynamo Congo “Jakkals” Hindjou who is back in full training after a long layoff through a badly swollen ankle.
The injury-plucked veteran midfielder has started training this week, but could face stiff competition from the highly talented but often temperamental Jasmin “Ninja” Karongee for a starting berth in the heart of Stars’ midfield.
Both Orlando Pirates and Black Africa return to their happy hunting ground with the Ghosts more than determined to maintain their recently acquired stronghold in the annual derby over their arch rivals.
Matches between these two football giants never cease to produce excitement of the highest order, and tomorrow’s encounter should be no exception with lots of fireworks expected to fly freely, when the eagerly-awaited derby gets underway under floodlights at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura tomorrow evening.
Defending champions Civics could have their hands full when they host a rejuvenated APS Blue Waters at the Khomasdal Stadium in Windhoek on Sunday (15h00).
If the Civilians coach Ricardo “Bucksy” Mannetti could have been given the luxury of hand picking the ideal opponents to face his team at this point in time – the coastal outfit would in all likelihood have topped the list.
Across town Tigers, six points adrift the leaders, must first withstand the might of Mighty Gunners if they are to entertain any hopes of catching up with the leading pack and stake a serious claim for the elusive league title.
The Donkerhoek Boys are at home to Dawid Snewe’s men in uniform at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on Sunday (15h00).
Gunners are two points above the relegation zone and will certainly have one eye over their shoulders, because failure to collect points and victory for Blue Waters will see the Otjiwarongo-based team inadvertently exchanging places with the coastal outfit.