By Carlos Kambaekwa
Could this be the turning point for Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) to recapture the early form that saw the German mounting a serious challenge for the coveted MTC Namibia Premiership title for a number of weeks in the first round?
A few months ago, SKW were sitting pretty comfortably on the summit of the MTC Premiership log standings and looked destined to upset the odds by winning their first ever league title since Namibia’s independence from the South African apartheid regime.
The Germans travel across town for their confrontation with hoodoo team African Stars in an MTC Namibia Premier League clash at the Khomasdal Stadium in Windhoek tomorrow evening (19h00).
The league has been severely disrupted by the Brave Warriors’ involvement in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Preliminaries that also double up as 2010 CAF African Cup of Nations Qualifiers, and this particular exercise has the potential to take the steam out of this season’s closely contested title race.
Both Stars and SKW were serious title contenders during the first round but the wheels of fortune unexpectedly came off with defeats against log leaders Orlando Pirates and Eleven Arrows respectively.
The two giants played out a two-all stalemate in the first round with Nico Andima and Jasmin “Ninja” Karongee scoring a goal apiece for the Reds and Gilbert Rwasoka’s lads went one better when they eliminated the Germans with a 2-1 victory in the semifinal of the MTC NFA Cup last month.
The Reds will be minus first choice goalkeeper Maxmilian Mbaeva who is currently on national duty with the Brave Warriors while reliable defender Dennis Ngueza will be a notable absentee as he starts his one-match suspension after the overlapping defender was red-carded during his team’s last league match against Black Africa last month.
Stars mentor Gilbert Rwasoka says despite missing two of his most influential players for tomorrow’s clash, his charges are raring to go and maintain their slight dominance over their cross town rivals, but the Zimbabwean national minced no words as he expressed dismay over the league’s inability to finish activities as initially scheduled.
“I don’t know who is at fault for this mess, but for heaven’s sake! We only have 12 teams in our league and yet we are still playing while other countries like South Africa and England with sizeable leagues have already finished their league activities.
Whoever deals with the fixtures should have made alternative plans upon receiving the calendar for international matches, so there should be no room for lame excuses,” fumed the usually calculated Rwasoka.
According to Rwasoka, this week’s chilly weather has grounded some of his key players with flu, but the well-travelled coach is crossing his fingers and hopes the players would recover in time for tomorrow’s clash. He says it’s extremely difficult to keep inactive players motivated while the league remains idling for strange reasons.
SKW coach Richard Starke echoed Rwasoka’s sentiments and says the league should have planned properly as the current scenario now puts a financial strain on teams to maintain their playing personnel while they are not playing competitively.
Starke promises fireworks and believes his team has what it takes to avenge their semifinal defeat in the MTC NFA Cup against Stars last month.
“In that game we missed some key players because of an assortment of reasons. Bobby Kaapama could not feature because he fell ill on the eve of the match, but we are determined to set the record straight and cut Stars to size because they have been our nemesis for quite some time now.”
Meanwhile, the Organizing Committee of the MTC Namibian Football Association (NFA) Cup has rescheduled the final of the country’s most sought after silverware between defending champions African Stars and Civics for the 28th of this month at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium.