Katutura glamour football club African Stars retained this season’s Standard Bank Super Cup by convincingly waltzing past a hapless Tigers in an action-packed match at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.
The Reds, inspired by the presence of returning midfield kingpin Stigga Ketjijere and the lively penetration of attacking midfielder Obrey Amseb, were a much-improved side from the team that struggled to make a significant impact in the domestic league in the 2015/2016 campaign that saw them claim a disappointing fourth place finish on the MTC Premiership log standings.
Bobby Samaria’s rejuvenated charges won their right to a place in the final of the lucrative Standard Super Cup after marathon qualifying matches in Windhoek last month.
Saturday’s match was a repeat of last year’s final that saw the Reds defeat eternal rivals Tigers by a solitary goal that served as sweet revenge for their defeat at the hands of the Namibian champions in the semifinal of the Dr Hage Geingob Cup.
Buoyed by an appreciate crowd, the duty was placed on the shoulders of former Tigers stalwarts Kaka Nekundi and Treasurer Kauapirura to inflict damage on their former paymasters. The pair put on their dancing shoes to show their former teammates a few familiar routines, as they almost single-handedly tormented their former team at will.
As widely expected, the Namibian champions dominated the opening stages of the proceedings, but could not penetrate the steadfast Reds’ rearguard. But it was Stars, who took top honours yet again when it matters most, as Panduleni Nekundi, Dennis Ngueza and Treasure Kauapirura scored to lead Stars to an emphatic 3-0 victory to retain the Standard Bank Super Cup.
After a dominant opening Tigers’ star-studded line up – led by the mercurial Image Isaaks, Llewelyn Stanley and man of the moment Abes Iimbondi – were kept at bay by the resolute Stars’ defense.
Former Citizens free scoring striker Tjiuana Tja Tjinotjiua proved a constant thorn in the flesh of Tigers’ defense and soon created the opening goal. The speedy winger skinned his marker down the wing before crossing for the unmarked burly striker, Nekundu, to slot home (1-0) with 14 minutes gone on the clock.
The goal seemed to have jolted into action the Reds, who until then appeared to have shown their opponents hopelessly too much respect. The enterprising quartet of combination of Ketjijere, Katiti Hakuria, Guti Korukuve and Amseb finally sprung out of their shell.
Going into the second half, Stars seized the momentum from their much-fancied opponents and started to dictate terms. Thus it came as no surprise when overlapping fullback Dennis ‘Law’ Ngueza-Tjetjinda, headed home at the far post to give his team an unassailable two-goal lead (2-0).
Having taken a two goal cushion, it was Stars all over, with Tigers offering little resistance – if any – in almost all aspects of an otherwise entertaining match. However, woeful finishing by the over-eager Reds forwards kept Tigers in the picture.
Samaria made a forced substitution in the first half, unleashing former MTC Premiership Golden Boot Award recipient Nicky ‘Tornado’ Musambani in place of Hakuria, who had suffered a heavy blow to his throat.
At the resumption of second half, Samaria made further tactical changes, dispatching former Tura Magic defender Bolle Handura, with Marius Kotze giving way, while Zimbabwean import Godwin Jena replaced Korukuve.
At the other end, Tigers’ wily mentor, Brian Isaacs, also shuffled his cards, bringing on Mapenzi Muwanei and Sakaria Petrus in a desperate effort to reignite his misfiring strike force.
However, it was former Tigers overlapping fullback Kauapirura, who found space in the opposition’s danger zone to beat Tigers’ avid goalie, Peterson, hands down in added time to give his team a well-deserved 3-0 triumph.
Bobby Samaria’s charges were the proud recipients of a dummy cheque with a figure of N$500 000 inked on it, while Tigers had to be satisfied with a consolation prize of N$200 000.