By Carlos Kambaekwa
Oshikandela Ramblers and Black Africa played to a dull one-all stalemate in an MTC Namibia Premier League match under freezing conditions at a poorly lit Ramblers Stadium in Windhoek, last night.
The eagerly awaited clash started 20 minutes late after match officials and both captains deliberated on whether the match should continue or not because of poor lighting.
The hosts were the more enterprising side in the opening stages with John Samson and Pineas “Heel Extension” Jacob combining well upfront, but the best chance fell to wasteful winger Jeremiah “Bullfrog” Baisako, who opted to pass the ball when aiming at goal could have done the trick after the Brave Warriors fullback was teed off by Samson.
Ramblers Mahne Martin was the first player to get his name on the referee’s crime sheet following a dangerous tackle in the 10th minute.
The hosts piled up the pressure but Africa’s defence applied the offside trap with great aplomb – much to the frustration of the over hasty Ramblers’ strike force.
Ramblers were the first to draw blood when evergreen striker John latched on to a cleverly executed delivery by Jacob in the 20th minute to steer the ball past a bemused Bongo Grootboom in Africa’ s goal from close range.
Black Africa launched their attacks with leading goal scorer Jerome Louis in the thick of things but the quicksilver striker found the Ramblers defensive pair of Luther “Beanpole” Kanalelo and Donnelly “Mr Stability” Nell in an uncompromising mood.
Amy Savihemba won most of the battles in a packed midfield but Africa’s quick short passing had their more fancied opponents at sixes and sevens at times and Smithley Engelbrecht’s charges were almost back on level terms with Louis’ close range header flying just inches past the upright with the Ramblers defence all at sea.
At the other end, Nelson “Dicky” Akwenye wasted a glorious opportunity when the skillful winger missed the target from an inviting position after some good work by the hard running Raymond “Lollipop” Awaseb.
With five minutes left before the changeover – the visitors were dealt a major blow when Louis saw red for a second bookable offence, which resulted from a dangerous tackle on Savihemba.
Ramblers used their numerical advantage to the maximum and curved open the fragile Africa rearguard at will with several clever through passes that afforded their goal-shy strikers one-on-one situations with Africa’s last line of defence.
Shortly after the break Jacob beat the offside trap but shot wide with only the keeper to beat. The trend continued and Michael “Dolam Tower” Pienaar and Baisako were not to be outdone either when presented with the same situation.
The last chance fell to Jacob, who ballooned the ball over the bar after the speedy forward left his markers for dead and was left with an easy tap-in but the ambitious striker instead went for power and paid a heavy price for his indiscretion.
Africa slowly clawed their way back into the game and spread the ball down the wings and it came as no surprise when Barries Rooi rattled the net with a good shot after a goalmouth scramble for the equalizer with only five minutes left on the clock.
The hosts could only watch in disbelief as wayward finishing cost them two valuable points that could have seen them leapfrog Orlando Pirates into first place on the log standings with three rounds of matches to go before the curtain finally comes down on this season’s closely contested title race.
Ramblers and Pirates are now both perched on 34 points each but the Buccaneers’ superior goal difference keeps Brian Isaacs’ lads on the summit for the time being, while Africa remains in 5th place with 30 points from 18 matches.