The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Pirates Face Character Test

ORLANDO Pirates take on Black Africa at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Friday evening in the pick of the weekend's Namibia Premier League Round 12 matches.

The traditional Katutura derby will once again be a crucial encounter, with both teams still in the title race, although Pirates' title aspirations suffered a big blow when they lost 4-1 to African Stars last weekend.

It was their first defeat of the season, which saw them falling five points behind log leaders African Stars, and although the title race is still far from over, they cannot afford another defeat against their traditional rivals.

As their coach Christi Guruseb said, the defeat against Stars was a big psychological blow which will test the character of the players.

"It's about how well the players can adjust and accept the defeat. It's back to the drawing board again and we will have to bounce back. Now we will see what they are really made of. It will be a test of character, but I believe they can bounce back," he said.

Black Africa are just one point behind log leaders Stars and will need to win to keep up the pressure. Last weekend they swept Mighty Gunners aside and on current form will start the match as favourites against Pirates, but the Buccaneers will be sure to lift their game against their old rivals.

The Independence Stadium will host a double-header on Saturday, with Civics taking on Eleven Arrows at 16h00 while Ramblers and SKW meet in another derby at 18h00.

Civics will be buoyed by their performance last weekend when they grabbed a last-minute equaliser against Tigers, while Arrows are coming off a 4-0 defeat against Ramblers. That defeat will also test their character, and how they and their young coach Gerald Guther respond could set the tone for the rest of their season.

Ramblers are on a high and still well in the title race, only three points behind Stars. Under new coach Woody Jacobs they have been transformed into title challengers and will start the match as favourites.

SKW recorded an important victory against Tura Magic last weekend, but they had a poor first round, dropping down to second-last position at one stage, and will have to improve a lot if they hope to beat their old rivals on Saturday.

At the Sam Nujoma Stadium, Tigers take on Mighty Gunners on Saturday evening. After their 4-0 defeat to Black Africa last weekend, Gunners coach Leonard Nambadi remained confident that they would avoid relegation, but their revival might still take a while as they will be hard pressed to get points off a strong Tigers side.

Blue Waters have had a disappointing season so far, which culminated in a 1-0 home defeat to Rundu Chiefs last weekend. On Saturday they take on fellow strugglers Tura Magic and another defeat will certainly set the alarm bells ringing.

Log leaders African Stars travel to Rundu to take on bottom of the log Rundu Chiefs. Normally Stars would be overwhelming favourites but, after a disastrous start, Chiefs have made a strong comeback, winning their last two matches in a row. On their home ground they cannot be underestimated and Stars' wily coach Ali Akan will have to be at his best to stay at the top.

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