By Carlos Kambaekwa
Civics’ aspirations for a fourth consecutive title all but evaporated when the MTC Namibia Premiership defending champions were held to a 1-all stalemate by relegation threatened APS Blue Waters at the Khomasdal field in Windhoek yesterday.
The result left the Civilians on 18 points – 7 points off the pace of log leaders Ramblers and 5 behind second-placed Sport Klub Windhoek. Blue Waters remained stuck at second bottom with a paltry 8 points.
In yesterday’s other action, Tigers played out a dull goalless draw against Dawid Snewe’s Mighty Gunners at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.
The men in uniform moved 2 points above the relegation zone while Tigers remained in seventh place with 18 points from 12 matches.
African Stars’ title hopes were dealt a major blow after the Reds lost their second consecutive league match – going down 2 -1 against Eleven Arrows at the Kuisebmond Stadium in Walvis Bay on Saturday.
The result left the Samba Boys stuck with 15 points – 10 points adrift of Ramblers though the Katutura giants still have a game in hand.
The eagerly-awaited Katutura derby between arch rivals Orlando Pirates and Black Africa might have failed to produce any goals but both sets of players dished out carpet football and the fans were given full value for their money.
Kick off was delayed for about an hour to avoid a stampede as fans were still streaming in their hundreds through the turnstiles, way past the scheduled kick-off time of 19h00.
Going into the match, the Buccaneers were blowing hot and cold, buoyed by their recent run of success over their nemesis in the last five seasons, but it was Smithley Englebrecht’s young brigade who took the game to their more fancied opponents from the onset.
Africa’s usually livewire striker Jerome had a bad day at the office – squandering a number of gilt edge chances, finding himself in one on one situations with the fearless Athiel Mbaha in Pirates’ goal.
The gigantic Mbaha proved once again why he is regarded as the country’s number one goalkeeper with some breathtaking saves that kept his team in the picture.
Action swung from end to end, and the Ghosts’ strikers also had their fair share of mistimed shots at goal from inviting angles but in the end a share of the spoils seemed to be a fair reflection of an otherwise entertaining encounter, though Africa might feel a little bit hard done by not walking away with the three points at stake.
SKW kept their remote title hopes alive with another unconvincing 2 -1 victory over Oshakati City at the SKW Stadium on Saturday to set up what now looks like would be a two-horse race between Ramblers and SKW for the coveted league title.
After they surrendered their top spot to cross-town rivals SKW temporarily, Ramblers remained on course to reclaim the elusive title they last won under the guidance of Gary “Mr Fix It” Sales in 1992.
The Tunchel Street Boys made short work of basement residents Fedics United – dispatching the Keetmanshoopers by two goals without a reply at the Ramblers field on Saturday.
Fedics held its own and the score stood goalless at the changeover – a situation that propelled Ramblers to dig deeper into their reserve tank and veteran super-sub Raymond “Lollipop” Awaseb duly obliged by netting his team’s first goal before veteran striker John Samson sealed the contest with his fifth league goal of the season.
Ramblers now top the log standings on 25 points followed by the Germans on 23 points with Black Africa and Eleven Arrows trailing in third and fourth places respectively, with 20 points apiece while Orlando Pirates are breathing down their neck in fifth place with 19 points.
Whilst Fedics United’s quick return to the lower echelons of domestic football has all but been sealed , the battle for survival continues with Blue Waters, Mighty Gunners and Oshakati City all in danger of losing their Premiership status at the end of the season.
Blue Waters have started their league campaign slowly but the once fearsome coastal giants are now showing signs of recovery with four points from a possible six in their last two league outings against formidable opponents.
Dawid Snewe’s Mighty Gunners’ poor away record could prove decisive in the long run following a string of mixed results in some matches when they looked destined to win only to lose concentration in the final quarter of the match.
However, in Fellah the men in uniform have one of the shrewdest coaches in the game and possess the potential to escape the dreaded relegation axe at least for the current season, but the team needs to start collecting maximum points when it matters the most, notably at their home ground the Mokati Stadium in Otjiwarongo.
Despite the acquisition of some of the country’s finest footballers, Ohakati City are far from the team that set the scene alight last season with some great performances that saw the Northerners finishing runner-up in the league last season.
City urgently needs to chalk up some good displays if they are to avoid being involved in a three-dog relegation battle. The team is living on the edge in 9th place to be precise, with 11 points, and is only three points away from the drop zone.