By Carlos Kambaekwa
Three times MTC Namibia Premiership champions Civics Football Club are brimming with confidence after defeating hoodoo team Tigers in an uninspiring league match at the Khomasdal Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.
Starting the match in 5th place, six points adrift of log leaders Oshikandela Ramblers, the Civilians needed to win at all costs even if that ambition had to be achieved through playing ugly football – the most important thing was the three valuable points at stake and Helmuth Scharnowsky’s charges did grab the points to move within three points of the summit.
After a shaky start, veteran lanky striker Floris Diergaardt rose above a flatfooted Tigers defence to head past a stranded Fox Nambundunga in Tigers’ goal in the 10th minute.
The inspirational captain got to the end of Victor Helu’s telling cross from the right wing and placed the ball neatly in the back of the net to give the Civilians the much-needed boost after a nervy start that saw their usually composed players making elementary errors – much to the annoyance of team owner Scharnowsky.
The Civilians goalkeeper from Congo Brazzaville, Ofouya Erwann, kept his team in the game when he stopped a powerful goal-bound close range left footed shot from Gregory Horaeb.
At the other end, Helu rushed his shot and ballooned the ball into the skies after the diminutive winger latched onto a clever through ball by Diergaardt – much to the relief of the clearly dejected Tigers bench.
Tigers had the Civilians pinned down in their own half for the better part of the match but their strikers seemed to have forgotten their shooting boots at home as they were firing blanks at every available opportunity.
One Tigers’ fan, seemingly irritated by the team’s misfiring strikers, went to the length of suggesting that the club should register its assistant coach and former goal poacher Forester Nicodemus as a player to solve the team’s endless poor finishing.
After the break, the Donkerhoek based outfit continued from where they left off and bombarded the home team’s rearguard with several attacks with the first real goal scoring opportunity falling to Horaeb, but the former Orlando Pirates and Ramblers’ journeyman shot over the bar with the net begging.
Shortly afterwards, Diergaardt came close with a sizzling shot that flew just past the upright and the cool as a cucumber Tigers’ midfield genius Neville Nanub almost brought the teams on level terms with a cleverly executed free kick which just flew inches over the crossbar with Erwann clutching thin air.
Tigers’ inspirational Tanzanian import Lubingisa Lubingisa ventured forward and let go with a long range cracker but the ball flew past the upright and that’s how it remained: Civics 1 – Tigers 0.
The defeat saw Tigers exchanging places with Oshakati City and the Donkerhoek outfit now find themselves in unfamiliar territory alongside three other teams battling relegation in the 12-team elite league.
A clearly disappointed Tigers coach Willem Kapukare blasted his misfiring strikers but also had some praise for the way his young charges have been responding to his tactics.
“The fact that we are creating numerous goal-scoring opportunities in every match is an indication that we are definitely doing something right – but one must also not lose sight that this is a young and relatively inexperienced side and our initial plan at the beginning of the season was to avoid relegation and mould this bunch of youngsters into a formidable team that can challenge for top honours next season.”
And while Civics remain on course for an unprecedented title, the team’s boss Scharnowsky roasted his players for a lack of urgency and what he termed a sub-standard showing in their narrow victory over Tigers.
“The standard of football was very poor today and I’m extremely disappointed with our work rate and the manner in which we distributed the ball because we allowed our opponents too much room to come at us and dictate the pattern of the game.”
However, the team’s caretaker coach Sylvester “Seun” Doeseb was more philosophical and blamed his team’s poor performance on an assortment of factors.
“Look, we were minus of our most valuable players in both Jamunovandu Ngatjizeko and Brian Brendell. The versatile Ngatjizeko is reportedly injured while uncertainty hangs over the whereabouts of Brendell.”
The wayward Brave Warriors’ midfielder has a string of poor disciplinary records since joining the Civilians from Friends two seasons ago and according to sources close to the team , the hardworking midfielder has developed a habit of skipping training sessions for weeks only to resurface again without any explanation.
Stuurman said the league is a marathon and his charges are determined to take it one match at a time.
“It’s not going to be an easy ride this time around – nevertheless, we just have to wait and see because we have very tough assignments ahead of us as we must still overcome the likes of Ramblers, Orlando Pirates, SKW, African Stars and Fedics United as well as another tough away match against Mighty Gunners.”
Elsewhere, Oshakati City eased their relegation worries after playing to a goalless stalemate against African Stars at the Oshakati Independence Stadium on Saturday.
APS Blue Waters revived their slim hopes for survival with a comprehensive 3 -1 win over city rivals Bizhub Eleven Arrows in a coastal derby at the Kuisebmond Stadium in Walvis Bay on Saturday.
It was certainly a good weekend for both teams in the basement after Namdeb Fedics United recorded their second win of the season following their 2-1 victory over fellow league rookies Mighty Gunners at the J. Stephanus Stadium in Keetmanshoop on Saturday.
Dawid Snewe’s men in uniform can consider themselves unlucky not to have returned home with a least one point from their southern safari after the Otjiwarongo-based team missed a last minute penalty with the score standing at 2-1 at the time.
Black Africa returned to winning ways after a somewhat lean spell in recent weeks that saw the Mighty Lions dumped out of the lucrative MTC NFA Cup by Cymot Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW), a fortnight ago.
Smithley Engelbrecht’s’ young brigade finally dusted themselves off and responded in the most commendable fashion when they dispatched the very same SKW outfit with a convincing 2-Nil win at the latter’s stadium in the capital on Friday evening.