DEFENDING champions Black Africa went to the top of the Premier League log for the first time this season when they beat Blue Waters 5-4 last weekend and now they plan to stay there.
In a remarkable comeback, they turned around a 3-0 deficit to emerge 5-4 victors and with African Stars and Ramblers both dropping points in draws to Tura Magic and Orlando Pirates respectively, Black Africa leapfrogged them to go to the top.
This evening they take on Civics and coach Brian Isaacs is adamant that they will remain at the top of the log.
“We had a slow start but we realised that we have to pick up our level and now we have rediscovered our self-belief and form. At the beginning of the season people were already writing us off, but now we are back on top and we are determined to stay there,” he said.
Isaacs said he expected a tough match against Civics, who are currently seventh on the log, seven points off the pace.
“We worked very hard to get to the top and I told the players they will have to work twice as hard now to stay there, because all the other teams lift their game when they play us,” he said.
Isaacs has a wealth of talent to choose from, especially up front in attack, where Roger Katjiteo and Tara Katupose have kept out experienced campaigners like Jerome Louis and Marco van Wyk in recent matches. Isaacs said there was healthy competition for places in his team.
“I told the players they need to step up to a higher gear. Roger and Tara have taken their chance well and there is now healthy competition for places amongst the forwards. The others were maybe in a comfort zone before, but they have seen that life can go on without them and they need to show their qualities when they come on,” he said.
Civics’ manager Paul Stramis said he expected a tough match but they were determined to win.
“I always look forward to our matches against Black Africa because they always produce fireworks. In recent years we have not done so well, but in general we have a good record against them,” he said.
Stramis said they were determined to win the match to improve their log position.
“We are aiming for victory and will fight for the three points. We are in a positive frame of mind and I can promise our fans that they will see a great match,” he said.
“We must get points off the top teams like Black Africa, otherwise we will just fall further behind,” he added.
Their match will start 21h30 at the Sam Nujoma Stadium tonight and will be preceded by the encounter between Tigers and Ramblers at 19h30.
Third-placed Ramblers has had a great start to the season and are still unbeaten but in Tigers they will face a tough opponent.
After an indifferent start to the league, Tigers were back to their best last weekend when they beat SKW 4-1, and with players like Panduleni Nekundi and Pineas Jacob in great form, Ramblers will have their work cut out to contain them.
Ramblers’ coach Woody Jacobs said he expected a difficult match.
“It will be a tough match for us and I’ve always said that Tigers are one of the most difficult teams to beat – they had a slow start but are now picking up momentum,” he said.
“We are still unbeaten but we dropped points in our last two matches against Stars and Pirates, so if we win it will put our quest for the title back on track,” he added.
Tomorrow there will be another double header at the Sam Nujoma Stadium, with African Stars playing Mighty Gunners at 16h00 while Tura Magic take on Eleven Arrows at 18h00.
The former log leaders, Stars, will need to win to maintain their title challenge after dropping points against Tura Magic last weekend.
Tura Magic, meanwhile, will draw confidence from their draw against Stars, but Arrows have won their last two matches and will be difficult opponents.
In other matches tomorrow, Blue Waters host a struggling SKW at the Narraville Stadium, while bottom of the log Rundu Chiefs host unbeaten Orlando Pirates in Rundu.