The Namibian (Windhoek)

15 February 2013

Namibia: Pressure Back On African Stars

The pressure is back on African Stars in the MTC Premiership title race after Black Africa opened up a four-point lead at the top of the table on Wednesday evening.

BA brushed SKW aside with an emphatic 3-0 victory at the Independence Stadium to move up to 33 points, while Stars remain second on 29 points with a game in hand.

On Wednesday, Black Africa were in a different class and effectively sealed the match with two goals within four minutes midway through the first half.

Willy Stephanus opened the scoring with a cracking shot from the edge of the penalty box, while Jerome Louis made it 2-0 when he outpaced his marker to steer a through ball past the advancing Charles Uirab in SKW's goals.

SKW launched some attacks in the second half but seldom looked like scoring, and it was BA who increased their lead from a counterattack when Bryan Bantam volleyed home a pinpoint cross by Stephanus.

Following their Cup defeat against Pirates last weekend, Black Africa coach Brian Isaacs made some changes to the squad, like bringing in Jack Mabuku, Pako Lekgari, Lee Roy Adams and Jerome Louis, which he said worked well.

"I'm very happy with the performance because we didn't play well in our last match against Pirates, so we made some changes and the guys responded very well and the result is excellent for me," he said.

"We played our Cup game only three days ago so I thought it would be good to bring some new energy into the team and that's why I made the changes," he added.

Isaacs said the result would put pressure on the chasing teams.

"We are now four points ahead - it's a good position to be in and it takes some pressure off us and puts pressure on the teams that are chasing us. It's still early days but it's a good result for us," he said.

Akan remains confident

African Stars coach Ali Akan said he was not surprised by BA's victory against SKW, but still sounded confident that Stars will close the gap, when they face Blue Waters in Narraville tomorrow.

"Black Africa have a lot of quality, much more than SKW and I am not surprised by the result. We are now four points behind and will have to win our away game against Blue Waters. It won't be easy, we are a bit under pressure, but we have enough quality to win," he said.

Stars have a few injuries with Meraai Swartbooi and Bradley Wermann both unavailable, but Akan said they had enough depth to cover for them.

"Riaan Cloete, Jamu (Ngatjizeko) and Ikuaterua (Tjozongoro) are all back from injury so we have enough depth." Stars will also be boosted by the recent acquisition of striker William Chilufya, who scored two goals in their 3-1 Cup victory against Tropical Heat last weekend.

Akan said he expected a tough match against Blue Waters.

"They are not in a good position on the log and will come out fighting against us, so it will be very tough, but we expect a good result," he said.

Meanwhile, the race to avoid relegation is also intensifying with three teams at the bottom of the log within three points of each other.

Third-from-bottom Tura Magic on 11 points, face a tough match against fifth-placed Orlando Pirates tonight, while second-last Mighty Gunners on nine points face another tough assignment against third placed Ramblers at Windhoek's Independence Stadium tomorrow.

Bottom of the log Rundu Chiefs on eight points host eighth-placed Civics in Rundu and a victory could see them moving off the foot of the table for the first time this season.

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