AFRICAN Stars and Black Africa broke away from the chasing pack after some big upsets were recorded in Round 12 of the MTC Premiership over the weekend.
Stars and BA both won their matches to continue to set the pace at the top, but Ramblers and Pirates both lost for the second successive week as their title ambitions suffered big setbacks.
Eleven Arrows also pulled off a big upset, beating Civics 3-1 in Windhoek, while Tura Magic held Blue Waters to a draw in Walvis Bay and Tigers beat Mighty Gunners 2-1 in Windhoek.
African Stars remained one point ahead of Black Africa at the top of the log, but had to rely on an injury-time goal by defender Chris Katjiukua to beat Rundu Chiefs in Rundu.
Edwin Korukuve put Stars ahead midway through the first half, but Gella Kandjimi equalised for Rundu shortly after the break.
Chiefs' defence did well to keep Stars at bay and it seemed as if they were heading for a draw, but Katjiukua managed to grab the winner two minutes into injury time when he stabbed in a freekick by Johannes Seibeb.
The result saw Stars once again moving to the top of the log on 28 points - one ahead of Black Africa.
Stars' coach Ali Akan was a relieved man after the match.
"We dominated the first half and should have scored more goals, but Rundu came back well in the second half. It was a difficult field to play on and it was very hot, so I am very happy that we won the match," he said.
Rundu Chiefs remain at the bottom of the log following the defeat, but their PRO Thomas Shapi said he was confident that they would avoid relegation.
"We played very well against Stars and on this performance I can assure you that we will stay up. There are still 10 matches to go, of which five are home games that we want to win, while we have also targeted two away games to pick up points," he said.
On Friday evening, Black Africa beat Orlando Pirates 2-1 in a pulsating Katutura derby, to momentarily go to the top of the log on 27 points.
Eslin Kamuhanga put BA ahead with a fierce shot on 23m and barely two minutes later Roger Katjiteo made it 2-0 when he broke through Pirates' defence to score from close range.
Ronaldo Tsowaseb pulled a goal back for Pirates just before halftime after latching onto a through pass by Rudie Khariseb.
Pirates pushed hard to grab the equaliser after the break while BA launched some dangerous counterattacks, but the score remained the same as BA held on for the victory.
"It was a very difficult game. Pirates came with a game plan and they gave us a very good game but three points is three points and I'm very happy with the victory," BA coach Brian Isaacs said after the match.
It was Pirates' second successive defeat, which has given their title ambitions a big blow, as they are now eight points behind the log leaders.
Despite the defeat, Pirates coach Christi Guruseb praised his players.
"I take my hat off to my players, because they responded magnificently after the defeat to Stars last weekend. That's the positive thing and I'm really looking forward to our next matches," he said.
On Saturday evening, Ramblers' title aspirations also suffered a big blow as they lost 2-0 to SKW.
Goals by Raymond Mate on 51m and Elvis Tjivasera from the penalty spot on 87m gave SKW a deserved victory against a lacklustre Ramblers side.
It was SKW's second successive victory which sees them moving up to seventh on the log on 15 points, while Ramblers remain third, but are now six points behind the leaders.
Ramblers coach Woody Jacobs conceded that they will find it very hard to remain in the title chase now.
"It's going to be very difficult to close the gap on the leaders now. We play Black Africa on Wednesday and will have to win that game to stay in the frame," he said.
Civics also suffered a shock defeat, losing 3-1 to Eleven Arrows at Windhoek's Independence Stadium.
Penias Nzeve gave Civics the lead just before halftime, but Arrows struck after the break with goals by Michael Akwenye, Erwin Kaujende from the penalty spot and Matheus Matheus to complete a comprehensive victory.
The result sees Civics slipping down to eighth position on the log on 13 points while Arrows move up to sixth position on 15 points.