By Carlos Kambaekwa
Katutura-based glamour football club African Stars have vowed to claim the scalps of Civics when the two giants clash in the final of the country’s most sought after silverware, the MTC NFA Cup, at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium this Saturday.
Stars’ Zimbabwean mentor Gilbert Rwasoka is upbeat ahead of the grand finale, despite the team’s current slump in recent games that saw the Reds suffer one of their worst defeats in decades – a 6-nil drubbing at the hands of arch rivals Orlando Pirates in a league match, a result that all but put the team’s slim title hopes at the threshold.
“We are certainly not in the mood to surrender our dominance over Civics and look forward for another battle with the star-studded Civilians. They are very a very good team with a number of experienced players who have been playing for the national team, the Brave Warriors, but that does not scare us at all,” Rwasoka said.
Stars have been enjoying an upper hand against the Civilians in most of their encounters in recent years and the team’s thousands of followers will be there again to cheer the lads.
“No doubt about it, our supporters have always been our thirteenth player on the field of play and will definitely have a bigger say in the outcome of the match but the bottom line is that we are not afraid of Civics at all and strongly believe the match is winnable,” Boasts the highly knowledgeable soft-spoken Zimbabwean mentor.
The Reds were held to a goalless draw by unfashionable Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) in an uninspiring MTC Namibia Premier League clash last weekend, while the Civilians have been left to kick their heels in frustration after the league went into a self inflicted recess – courtesy of some shoddy planning within the top echelons of the country’s elite league.
Rwasoka adds more fuel to the fire: “If they (Civics) could win the league title three times in the row, what would stop us from retaining the cup?
Remember, nobody gave us the slightest chance when we played Pirates in last year’s final, but we proved the Doubting Thomases wrong and showed that we possessed the big match temperament and came out unscathed.”
Stars will be out to avenge their heart-breaking penalty shootout defeat against the very same Civics in the final of the 2006/2007 edition of the FNB Cup after the teams had played out a 2-all stalemate after 120-minutes of open play.
The team’s diehards were of the opinion their beloved team was deliberately denied a well-deserved victory after the Civilians were handed a hotly disputed penalty in the dying minutes of the game with Stars firmly in the driving seat.
However, the Reds will take heart from the fact that they have been enjoying a good run against their opponents in recent years – having taken four out of six valuable points off the undisputed league champions already this season.