Clubs unhappy over amended league fixtures

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…NPL maintains decision

Otniel Hembapu
Windhoek

Club officials of various teams plying their trade within the country’s top-flight football league, MTC Namibia Premier League, yesterday expressed their dismay over the league’s decision to amend fixtures for the weekend of April 6-7.

The NPL yesterday released amended league fixtures to be played between April 5 and 7, but what particularly enraged various club officials is the fixture between league table toppers African Stars and relegation-threatened Civics, which is slated for next Friday, April 6, at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in the capital.

Two club administrators from two different Windhoek-based clubs, who asked not to be named, complained that the amendment of the latest fixtures gives Stars an upper hand, as they have increased chances of beating their new opponents, Civics, and that could potentially see them running away with the league title.

Stars, who are currently topping the log with 52 points, were initially scheduled to face reigning champions Tigers and giant-slayers Tura Magic in upcoming subsequent rounds. However, with the recent amendments to the fixtures, Stars have now avoided a resurgent Tigers and Magic and, should they beat Civics next Friday, they will surely be well on track to lifting the coveted league trophy – provided they win, as anything could also happen in the Civics encounter.

Black Africa is second on the log with 47 points, followed by Tura Magic with 42 points and Young African in fourth place also with 42 points. Tigers are stationed fifth on the log with 40 points and Otjiwarongo outfit Mighty Gunners are sitting in sixth place with 39 points.

“Why should they (the league) amend the fixtures now when some of the big clubs are starting to catch up with African Stars or is it a deliberate attempt to demotivate the chasing pack? We were all surprised to learn that fixtures have been amended and there is now a total shake up as far as the chasing pack is concerned. Stars were scheduled to face Tigers and Tura Magic and those would have been tough games for Stars to win and that would have thrown the league title race wide open again. However, to learn that things have changed and Stars are now pitted against Civics is partly unfair to some of us because the likelihood of Stars beating Civics is 110 percent and that will grant Stars an unfair advantage. Why did they see the need to amend the fixtures at such a crucial stage?” queried one of the officials.

Responding to the complaints, NPL Chief Administrator, Tovey Hoebeb, was somehow surprised by the complaints saying his office has not received an official communication from any aggrieved club advancing their dismay over the amended fixtures.

“The fixtures were amended and dispersed to all clubs after proper consultation with the league’s executive committee, which agreed to the amendment. I’m even shocked to hear that the fixtures were apparently amended to give Stars an advantage. I mean, who thinks like that seriously? When we, in consultation with the NPL executive, decided to amend the fixtures, certain aspects were taken into consideration such as match-fixing, bribery and certain [teams] that will perhaps give points away deliberately to disadvantage some and advantage others. In fact, this amendment is beneficial to all clubs, especially those facing relegation, as they will have some room to make a few corrections to their league campaign. It (amendment) is honestly aimed at levelling the playing field for all clubs. Whoever made such allegations has other motives, perhaps aimed at discrediting the league,” maintained Hoebeb, who said the NPL is a professional entity that will never compromise fair play.

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