By Confidence Musariri
The Namibian Premier League (NPL) is sending the original premier league crown to Otjiwarongo where log leaders and favourites Orlando Pirates are highly tipped to beat Mighty Gunners and be crowned cham-pions tomorrow.
By dusk tomorrow, the country will know its premiership champions, a decision that has been delayed by defending champions Civics’ recent surge of form which saw them rally two points behind Pirates.
Civics who host relegated Fedics in Windhoek will be hoping for a Pirates slip-up in Otjiwarongo.
Yet, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the league’s last games the fascinating spectacle that they are.
Pirates have a superior goal difference and can only win the league if they win or salvage a draw.
Civics will only win the title if Pirates lose by any margin, and they beat Fedics. Any other result will make Civics the champions.
Civics meet Fedics, a team they walloped 3-1 in the first leg of Keetmanshoop. Whereas Pirates are facing a military side that has recently upped the ante, destroying Black Africa 4-0 last week to remain in the league.
Tomorrow Black Africa find themselves fighting for the N$225 000 runners-up place.
League administrator Tovey Hoebeb yesterday said the NPL will only keep a replica trophy at the Independence Stadium, “but the original one will go to Mokati Stadium where Pirates are playing because they have an advantage,” he confirmed.
True, unstoppable in 12 consecutive assignments, including a first leg 2-0 win over Gunners last March, a mean defence and a predatory striker-force, Brian Isaacs’ men are about to end their two-decade long league drought.
“I was surprised that even supporters are now coming to the training field to show their passion to the club which deserves to be here, as it is one of the oldest in the country but has been robbed of a league title,” said Isaacs.
Striker Wilfred Coetzee is expected to pass a late fitness test today after picking up a knock on the ankle.
The NPL has sought to rubbish any conspiracy theories that are already infiltrating conversations within Windhoek, in the event that both Gunners and Fedics decide not to be competitive as they have nothing to play for.
“All the referees are under instructions to be readily available this weekend because they will only know of their assignments late on Friday night,” said referees director Boy Boy Ndjadhila.
What is striking in tomorrow’s photo finish is that both title contenders have little rivalry.
Club owners, Hendrik Dawids and Helmuth Scharnowski, have a more traditional animosity than the teams.
Dawids took charge of Pirates after ten years at Blue Waters with whom he won two league titles, including the MTC and FNB Cups, while Scharnowski arrived on the scene in 2001 and has won three league titles since taking over the premiership dominion from Dawids’ Blue Waters in the 2004/5 season.
Now Dawids wants to balance the league titles to Scharnowski’s three and cash in on the N$500 000 prize money.
“The major difference between the two club owners is that Civics have the biggest salary system in the league where Mr Scharnowski at time spends up to N$60 000 on the payroll,” said Civics manager Paul Stramis.
Dawids has not revealed how much he has spent for Pirates’ resurrection this season but invested over N$300 000 a season during his hey-days at Blue Waters, while Scharnoswki has been spending almost N$800 000 a season, in his back-to-back league wins.
Dawids is tipped to settle the scores tomorrow given that Civics might struggle with their first eleven, as goalkeeper Esau Tjiuoro and mercurial Jamu Ngatjizeko are all out with a flu bug, while midfielder Victor Helu has accumulated four yellow cards.