The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Tura Derby Highlights NPL

FOOTBALL enthusiasts are expected flock to the Sam Nujoma Stadium tomorrow evening when African Stars take on Black Africa at 18h00 in the biggest MTC Premiership clash of the season thus far.

Although the league has not even reached the halfway point yet, the two sides are the strong favourites to win the title and at this stage not much is separating them.

Stars were the early log leaders after BA suffered an early defeat to Ramblers, but BA took over at the top after a stunning come from behind 5-4 victory against Blue Waters on November 24.

When Stars were held to a 1-1 draw by Tura Magic the next day, the initiative swung to Black Africa, but Stars kept up the pressure with victories at home against Mighty Gunners and then away to Eleven Arrows last weekend.

With Tigers holding Black Africa to a draw last Friday, Stars were suddenly on top again after their Arrows victory, and now lead BA by one point.

Stars’ coach Ali Akan said he had a good feeling about the match and hoped to give their fans an early Christmas present.

“I’m feeling good about this match. This will be one of the biggest games in this country, just before the festive season and we have to give our supporters a nice Christmas present,” he said.

“We have some very good players in our team as well as on the bench and we have worked very hard this week. It won’t be easy, because Black Africa are the defending champions and they are a very tough side to beat, but I can promise both teams’ supporters a great match,” he said.

Ever the antagonist, Akan however believes the outcome of the match will not play a major role in the title race.

“The outcome won’t be very important for the title race because it's still too early. But if we win, we will be four points clear and that will give us an important advantage,” he said. Black Africa coach Brian Isaacs said he expected a great match.

“This is the big one. Everyone is talking about this match, and the anticipation and the tension is high. It is one of the pleasures of the moment and I am looking forward to the match,” he said.

“The rivalry between Black Africa and Stars is always high because no one wants to lose, so this is a must-win match for us. It will be a titanic clash but our preparation has gone well and I hope and pray that we will win,” he added.Isaacs called on Black Africa’s supporters to come out in large numbers.

“I know Black Africa’s loyal supporters will come in numbers and we will need their support to take us through. I only request the fans of both teams to come early so that the start of the match will not be delayed like in the past,” he said. Another cracking match can be expected when fourth-placed Orlando Pirates take on fifth-placed Tigers at the Sam Nujoma Stadium tonight.

Pirates are still unbeaten in the league but will face one of the form teams of the moment in Tigers.

With strikers Pineas Jacob and Panduleni Nekundi striking up a fine partnership, they have scored seven of their eight goals in their last three matches, and Pirates’ defence will be hard pressed to keep them at bay.

But Pirates have some stars of their own in players like Gustav Isaack, Mervin Areseb and the fast improving Nicky Musambani and will be out to retain their unbeaten status. Tomorrow, third-placed Ramblers travel to the coast to take on Blue Waters who are currently seventh. Ramblers, who were among the early leaders after going on a seven-match unbeaten run, will be keen to get their title challenge back on track, but Blue Waters away will be a tough proposition.

In other matches tomorrow, struggling Mighty Gunners host Eleven Arrows in Otjiwarongo, while bottom-of-the-log Rundu Chiefs host an improving Tura Magic.

Meanwhile, SKW’s poor form continued when they crashed to a 4-0 defeat against Civics on Wednesday evening.

Erwin Afrikaner scored twice, while Steven Gariseb substitute Llewellyn Stanley added to the score-line.

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