18 February 2013

Namibia: African Stars' Title Push Pegged Back

AFRICAN Stars lost ground in the title race as they surprisingly lost 1-0 to Blue Waters in Walvis Bay on Saturday.

An own goal by Chris Katjiukua in the 40th minute condemned Stars to their first defeat of the season and consequently allowed Black Africa to maintain their four-point lead at the top of the table.

Stars' keeper Max Mbaeva punched a cross away that hit Katjiukua and deflected back into his own net.

African Stars coach Ali Akan said they failed to capitalise on their chances, while they couldn't penetrate Blue Waters' defence in the second half.

"We had some good chances in the first half and should have been leading 2-0 at the break but then conceded an own goal just before halftime. In the second half Blue Waters defended very deep and we couldn't break them down," he said.

The result means that Black Africa now have daylight between themselves and Stars and Akan admitted that it would not be easy to catch the defending champions.

"We are now four points behind and that's not so good. We will have to fight in our remaining matches and we will have to beat Black Africa in our return match," he said.

It was only Blue Waters' third victory of the season, which saw them moving up to seventh position on 16 points.

The bottom two clubs Mighty Gunners and Rundu Chiefs both picked up victories as the battle for Premier League survival intensified.

Gunners beat Ramblers 3-1 at Windhoek's Independence Stadium through goals by Vernon Klaazen, Percy Khairabeb and Harold Ochurub, while Jaanda Ngozu scored for Ramblers.

In the final stages, Ramblers striker Heinrich Kazerua hit the upright, but it was Gunners who finished stronger, with Ochurub nearly adding two more goals.

Gunners' coach Leonard Nambandi said he was confident that they could beat Ramblers.

"I watched them in the Bidvest Cup in Tsumeb and devised a plan to beat them. I told my players to keep the ball on the ground, to keep on passing and the chances will come, and that's what happened," he said.

It was a disappointing performance by Ramblers and the first league defeat for new coach Konis Asino.

In Rundu, Rundu Chiefs beat Civics 2-0 through first half goals by Alex Goxab and Joseph Mundumbu.

On Friday night, Orlando Pirates came back from a goal down to beat Tura Magic 2-1. Patrick Sakala gave Tura Magic an early lead, but Alfred Ndyenge equalised just before halftime, while Nicky Musambani scored Pirates' winner in the second half.

With Mighty Gunners and Rundu Chiefs both winning, the battle to avoid relegation is now truly on, with only two points separating the bottom three teams.

Gunners have now moved up to 10th position on 12 points, followed by Tura Magic and Rundu Chiefs on 11 points each.

In the late match at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Saturday, Tigers were held to a goalless draw by Eleven Arrows.

Tigers' new Zimbabwean midfielder Protash Kabwe hit the bar, while Arrows' keeper Gernot Spath pulled off some fine saves as they held on for the draw which sees Arrows remaining sixth on 17 points while Tigers are fifth on 22 points.

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