Tigers Football Club are the new Namibian champions after Brian Isaacs’ fired-up charges saw off a stubborn Young Chiefs in a tightly contested MTC Premiership clash at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium on Saturday.
Playing in front of a partisan crowd, both teams needed a win for different reasons, with Chiefs determined to salvage something out of the game with the dreaded relegation axe hovering dangerously over them.
Needing victory to claim the elusive title with three matches to spare, Tigers took the fight to the visitors who fought tooth and nail to prevent Tigers from an easy ride.
In an evenly balanced opening, the hosts broke the deadlock midway through the first half after some good inter-passing between returnee Tangeni Shipahu and skipper Abes Liimbondi.
The latter finished the move, side-footing the ball casually through a cluster of defenders from outside the penalty box to give Tigers the lead (1-0) going into the halftime break.
Chiefs also had their moments but could not break the watertight Tigers defence, well marshalled by cool-as-a-cucumber centre Ferdinand Karongee. Tigers had the ball in the back of the net for their second goal but the goal was incorrectly ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper, who mistimed a harmless-looking cross.
Television replays showed there was not the slightest of contact when towering midfielder Romario Ndjavera rose the highest to head the ball home.
With halftime approaching, Shipahu had a chance to stretch Tigers’ slender lead when he found himself unmarked at the far post, but the tall forward headed wide with the goal at his mercy.
The second half produced the same pattern with both teams playing attacking football – much to the delight of the crowd that provided an electrifying atmosphere.
Chiefs were badly let down by wayward shooting and poor finishing.
When the referee blew the final whistle, the whole stadium erupted as the army of success-starved Tigers supporters clad in their favourite blue and white regalia stormed onto the field to celebrate a rare league victory.
Tigers dethroned African Stars to claim the N$1 million first prize. The runner-up spot is still up for grabs with no less than three teams vying for the consolation N$600 000. In the weekend’s other league action, Civics defeated Mighty Gunners 2-1, Tura Magic recorded an impressive away win dispatching Eleven Arrows 3-1 in Walvis Bay, while fast improving Flamingoes saw off fellow strugglers Julinho Sporting to slightly ease their relegation worries.
Elsewhere, Joslin Kamatuka’s lone strike was enough to give African Stars a 1-0 victory over Rundu Chiefs.
Black Africa and United Stars cancelled each other out in a draw.
Hosts LHU Blue Waters beat UNAM 1-0. The match between Citizens and FNB Orlando Pirates ended in a 2-all stalemate.
In yesterday’s action, Flamingoes beat United Stars 3-1 and Tura Magic defeated LHU Blue Waters with an identical score line, while Mighty Gunners hammered a toothless FNB Orlando Pirates outfit 4-1. Tigers and Rundu Chiefs shared the spoils in a 1-all draw.