By Carlos Kambaekwa
Former African Stars striker Johannes “Boetiekie” Malgas put on his dancing shoes and showed his former teammates a few familiar routines when the wayward goal poacher opened the floodgates in Orlando Pirates’ historical win over African Stars in a MTC Namibia Premiership clash at a packed-to-rafters Khomasdal Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Stars’ diehards as they watched their team being outplayed and outthought by a youthful Pirates outfit – that’s the only possible way to sum up a miserable night for Stars.
Fresh from a fine run which saw them claiming the scalps of log leaders Ramblers amongst their hordes of casualties – the Stars were the pre-favourites against a dejected Pirates side that could only manage a 2-all draw away to Southern Stream Division One-bound Fedics United in their last league outing.
Stars were the more enterprising team in the opening minutes and threatened to unsettle a nervy Pirates’ rearguard until the 9th minute when Malgas scored with a long range scorcher that flew over the head of stranded Stars stand-in goalkeeper Escerol Kongoro, who spent more time picking up the ball out of the net rather than preventing it from crossing his goal line.
Pirates were dealt a major blow when Botswana import Steven Maposa was stretched off the field with a serious head injury and though the striker returned to action moments later – it was obvious the knock affected his rhythm and he was duly hauled off in the second half.
Stars almost replied immediately after the setback, but the usually composed Silver Suriyari headed well over the crossbar with the Pirates’ defence all at sea.
Pirates’ pint-sized midfielder Riaan Cloete wangled his way past a bemused Stars defence to beat the offside trap and lobbed the ball over the advancing Kongoro before poking it into an empty net for goal number two – four minutes before the break.
Cloete stunned the Stars bench with a long-range beauty into the top left hand corner of Stars’ goalposts to make it 3-Nil – two minutes into the second half.
Pandemonium almost broke out between the two sets of players when Stars captain Andrew Tjahikika elbowed Steven Goagab in an off-the-ball incident that escaped the referee’s attention.
In the aftermath of the fracas, Pirates defender Ivan Makina punched Browers Litanga Litombo in the face and for some strange reason the match officials once again failed to spot the ungentlemanly conduct freely exercised by the players.
With 65 minutes gone on the clock, Cloete worked his way into the Stars danger zone and was hacked down from behind by Stars defender Kanu Kandorozu, which resulted in referee Arvo Mufeti pointing to the penalty spot.
Malgas stepped up to take the responsibility but his weak effort was easily saved by Kongoro, his only real contribution on the night – much to the relief of the Stars bench.
Veteran Stars substitute Nico Andima nearly reduced the deficit but his goal-bound shot was blocked on the goal line by the ever alert George Tsamaseb.
At the other end, Kongoro’s misery continued when the butterfingered net-minder fumbled an innocent looking cross and allowed the ball to fall neatly in the path of Cloete who duly obliged by side footing the invitation into an empty net to complete his hat-trick in the 71st minute.
Four minutes later, Cloete came back to torment the clearly out of sorts Stars’ rearguard when he poked in goal number 5 – his 4th on the night and earned himself a standing ovation from the usually hard-to-please Pirates supporters.
Pirates’ hardworking midfielder Klaas Blom produced a moment of brilliance when the talented playmaker weaved his magic past a cluster of bemused defenders and exchanged passes with few of his teammates before getting to the end of the final pass to complete a move he initiated himself with 10 minutes of play left (6-0).
Suriyari almost pulled a face-saving goal back for Stars but his close range shot was blocked by the acrobatic Athiel Mbaha in the Pirates goal, who otherwise had a very quiet evening for his liking.
Judging from their faultless display on the night – Pirates could have beaten any team in domestic football and if their performance is an indication of what lies in store for their future opponents, then only a fool would bet against the Buccaneers clinching some silverware – come the end of the season.
The Stars’ Zimbabwean mentor Gilbert Rwasoka praised Pirates for their faultless display and said though he was not happy with the lukewarm performance dished out by his charges – the show is not over until the fat lady sings. “The score line is flattering to say the least, for the simple reason that we conceded silly goals.
“Nevertheless, these things happen in football globally but this is not the end of the world – so, we just have to regroup and pick up the pieces and concentrate on our next match in the quarterfinals of the MTC NFA Cup this coming weekend,” charged a clearly disappointed Rwasoka.
The victory moved Pirates into third place on the MTC Namibia Premiership log standings – 3 points adrift of early pace-setters Oshikandela Ramblers and a mere point off the pace of 2nd placed Cymot SKW.
In other action, Dawid Snewe’s Mighty Gunners hauled themselves off the relegation zone with a 1-all stalemate against Ramblers at the latter’s stadium in Windhoek on Saturday, in a match the men in uniform can consider themselves unlucky not to come away with maximum points as they did enough to win the contest.
Elsewhere, Oshakati City recorded their second consecutive win when the Northerners downed Tigers 1-0 at the Oshakati Independence Stadium, while KM Eleven Arrows dusted themselves off after last weekend’s shock defeat at the hands of lowly Mighty Gunners.
The coastal side defeated Cymot SKW by a solitary goal at the Kuisebmond Stadium in Walvis Bay (1-0).
With seven rounds of matches left before the curtain finally comes down on what could be easily described as the most closely contested race for the coveted league title in many years – both Fedics United and APS Blue Waters look sure bets for life in the country’s 2nd tier division next season.
The pair played to a 1-all draw at the J. Stephanus Stadium in Keetmanshoop on Saturday – a result which leaves the league strugglers firmly stuck at the basement of the MTC Namibia Premiership log standings.