… Ali Akan works his magic
WINDHOEK – Love him or hate him, Ali ‘Mr Fix It’ Akan, once again silenced his critics when the often short-fused coach steered his new club FNB Orlando Pirates to a well-deserved 2-1 win over his former club African Stars in an electrifying pick of the MTC Premiership opening fixtures at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Friday evening.
Doubtlessly Namibia’s most celebrated football coach in recent years, Akan left Stars under a dark cloud after he narrowly missed out on the coveted MTC Premiership title, but atoned for that when he filled the Reds’ barren trophy cabinet with two knockout cups in only his maiden season with the Katutura glamour football club.
He returned to his happy hunting ground to haunt his former employers as his young brigade matched their more fancied opponents pound for pound in every department in a MTC Premiership clash that attracted a large crowd with the Namibian Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob and Justice Minister Utoni Nujoma also in attendance.
Billed as the clash of the titans, both teams did not disappoint and went for the kill from the word go with Woody Jacobs’ fired-up side doing the most attacking – only to find the well-oiled Ghosts’ rearguard, marshaled by two of the finest or rather the most skillful centre backs in the business in the shape of Brian Gurirab and Ivan Makina, in an uncompromising mood.
The Buccaneers quickly got their rhythm back and started to pay frequent visits into the Reds’ danger zone, while they also enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession in the middle of the park. Stars were dealt a big blow when utility midfielder Jamu Ngatjizeko was forced to make way for Boetietjie Seibeb through injury in the first half.
It was end to end stuff but both sets of strikers could not find the target in a goalless first half with both shot-stoppers on either side of the park barely being troubled, while they also stood firm whenever they were indeed called into action.
The Reds started from where they left off at the resumption but it was the Ghosts who took the lead slightly against the run of play when livewire striker Ronaldo Tsowaseb, sent the Ghosts followers into a frenzy with a well-placed shot (1-0).
Stars were still recovering from the setback when Malawian import Chichondi rubbed more salt into the wound to extend Pirates’ slender lead with goal number two to put the Ghosts firmly in the driving seat.
Staring defeat in the face, the Reds threw more bodies upfront in a desperate search to get on level terms but that oak door of the Ghosts’ defence failed to yield under sustained pressure.
Discarded Brave Warriors’ bulky defender Steven Xoagub had the much-hyped Razzie Tjikuzu enveloped in his back pocket in the latter’s first ever competitive match since he found refuge with Stars as the wayward midfielder seeks to resurrect his once blossoming ailing football career at the beginning of the current term.
With time ticking by, sensational left winger Jocelyn Kamatuka pulled back a face-saving goal for the Reds with an astonishing scissors kick, a certainty for the goal of the season award, which left Pirates shot-stopper Michael Gamaseb, who otherwise enjoyed a stellar game between the sticks, catching flies. That’s how it remained: Pirates 2-1 Stars.
In the weekend’s other action, Petit Gariseb’s lone strike was enough to give Civics a 1-0 triumph over Eleven Arrows at the Kuisebmond Stadium and in the process avenging their recent 3-0 hammering against the same opponents in the League Cup at the same venue.
Ramblers and LHU Blue Waters shared the spoils in a 2-goal thriller in a first of a double header at the Sam Nujoma Stadium. A goal apiece by Brian Bantam, Awilo Stephanus, Tara Katupose and newly signed Capetonian Riaan Eugene gave holders Black Africa a comfortable 4-1 win over Rundu Chiefs to claim first position on the MTC Premiership log standings in the opening day of the 2013/2014 campaign.
Elsewhere, Tura Magic kept its recently acquired giant killing tag intact with a 2-1 away victory at newly promoted PC Blue Boys, while Tigers also saw off league rookies United Stars in Rundu with an identical score-line.