… An avalanche of goals at NPL opening round
MTC Premiership rookies Young African FC got their league campaign off to an excellent start with an impressive showing, when the country’s eagerly awaited topflight football league resumed after a self-imposed layoff.
The league’s new boys from the Cattle Country beat fellow promoted entrants, league returnees Chief Santos by two unanswered goals at the Nomtsoub Stadium in Tsumeb on Saturday.
Hosts Life Fighters and Civics played out to 1-all draw in the first of a double header at the Paresis Stadium in Otjiwarongo, while Blue Waters defeated Mighty Gunners 2-1 in a closely fought encounter in the second match at the same venue.
Nigerian import Dominique Edom netted a goal in each half for the Birds, while Gunners’ goal came courtesy of a deflected own goal via the frame of defender Greg Auchumeb.
Speedy winger Bester Uiseb put the energetic ‘Okahirona’ ahead with a fine strike to give the hosts a one-goal cushion going into the halftime break.
After the resumption, the Civilians threw more bodies upfront in search of the elusive equaliser, but could simply not penetrate the home team’s rock solid rearguard, which was expertly manned by the resolute defensive display of stocky fullback Kaambi ‘Drogba’ Kamupingene.
As fate would have it, the hosts were dealt a major blow when 2nd half “super-sub” Julio Cesar brought the teams on level terms with an opportunistic goal to break the hearts of the home side supporters.
Perennial underachievers Rundu Chiefs saw off the visiting Eleven Arrows 3-2 in an electrifying clash at Rundu Stadium.
Demoralised Black Africa in turn recorded a morale boosting 1-0 triumph over Young Chiefs in front of an enthusiastic and large crowd at Oshakati Independence Stadium with new recruit Makati Nawaseb netting the only goal of the match.
Ronnie Kanalelo’s revamped Unam FC had the better of the exchanges in their encounter with cross-town rivals Tura Magic, edging ahead of the overly ambitious Magicians by 3 goals to 2 in an exciting 5-goal thriller.
In the peak of the opening round, the traditional clash of the titans and mother of all derbies in domestic football – Pirates welcomed bitter-rivals African Stars in front of a vociferous near-capacity crowd under floodlights at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in windhoek on Friday evening. The match certainly lived up to its top billing.
The match had two contrasting tales, with the hosts demonstrating great skill and spell-binding ball retention, while the visitors’ superior endurance took the upper hand.
It was end-to-end stuff from the word go, with both teams playing attacking football, but it was Bobby Samaria’s fitter soldiers who registered their name on the score sheet and burly striker Kaka Nekundi soon put the fired-up ‘Starlile’ ahead with a well-executed overhead delivery (1-0).
The Reds extended their slender lead when Mario Kotze let fly with a ferocious pile driver that kissed the roof of the net – leaving Irvin Hoeseb in Pirates’ goal catching flies (2-0). The teams went into the changeover with Stars enjoying a healthy 2-goal lead.
Discarded Stars winger Enrico Hoebeb gifted the small army of Ghosts hopefuls a false glimmer of hope when he reduced the deficit after a goalmouth melee to 2-1.
However, the Reds had other ideas and put the contest to bed when winger Philemon Nambele, who arrived from reigning Namibian champions Tigers, killed off the contest.
His goal was a phenomenal demonstration of individual brilliance after Nambele powered his way through a cluster of defenders, galloping more than half the length of the field before he casually slotted the ball into the net at the near post (3-1).
The speedy winger picked up the ball from within his own half and went on an amazing solo run before rolling the ball into the net from an acute angle. In fact, Nambele had absolutely no right to score from that angle and the butter-fingered goalie, Hoeseb, should shoulder the blame for the decisive and jaw-dropping third goal.
With time ticking by, Ghosts’ mentor Woody Jacobs unleashed the skillful Christian Doeseb and the Buccaneers industrious number 10 immediately made his presence felt, tearing into the Stars’ defense with deft touches – much to the delight of the appreciative crowd.
Despite a late challenge by the marauding and seemingly blunt Pirates forwards, that oak door of the Reds’ rearguard well marshalled by seemingly ageless veteran defensive pair of Pat-Nevin Uanivi and Dennis ‘Law’ Tjetjinda point-blank refused to yield, with lanky shot stopper Loydt Kazapua barely troubled between the sticks.
And that’s how it remained: Pirates 1, Stars 3.
All matches in the MTC NPL Premiership opening round saw players form a guard of honour at the centre circle before kick-off to observe a moment of silence in memory of Namibia’s dearly departed and renowned football fan, Robbie Savage.