Disputed Match Throws NPL Finale Into Turmoil

The Namibia Premier League will not conclude this weekend because the outstanding fixture between African Stars and Orlando Pirates is only expected to be played next week Tuesday.

The league authorities confirmed yesterday that the two sides will play the remaining eight minutes of the match which was called off on 16 April due to a power outage at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.

This means the league winners might only be determined on Tuesday night, if holders BA fail to win their final fixture against Tura Magic and African Stars beat Blue Boys in their penultimate match of the season on Saturday afternoon.

“The match will be replayed on Tuesday. Only eight minutes will be played,” NPL league administrator Josua Hoeumlbeb told The Namibian Sport.

He added that an official announcement was set to be made later yesterday.

The “Lively Lions”, who are chasing a record-breaking fourth top-flight championship crown, lead the title race by three points over second-placed “Starlile”, who could pip their rivals to the title if they can also defeat a two-goals to the good Pirates in eight minutes on Tuesday.

As it stands, the league winner cannot be decided on goal difference as both sides are level on +18.

However, Stars have a better goals-for ratio of 33 compared to 32 for BA, which is enough to win them the Premiership crown for the first time in four years if they collect maximum points from their remaining two assignments.

A victory or draw for BA, coupled with defeat for African Stars would result in the champions retaining the title and the latter fighting for second spot with Pirates.

PROTRACTED SQUABBLE

The uncertainty surrounding the authorities’ disciplinary structures and African Stars’ involvement of the civil court in football matters, have resulted in the embarrassing scenario of the segmented conclusion to the league schedule.

The premier division’s 201314 season could be thrown into further disarray if Stars, who have already had two appeals over the disputed match turned down, refuse to play the final eight minutes on Tuesday.

Stars have indicated that they intend exhausting every available arbitration body locally and abroad in order to get the entire match replayed, and should they remain true to their word, the matter could drag on indefinitely.

Last week, Hoeumlbeb said the protracted case, which saw Stars’ second appeal dismissed through a technicality on Saturday, would be decided by an arbitration committee, which was to be set up by the NFA and deliver a ruling within five days.

But Hoeumlbeb’s announcement yesterday suggests that the matter has been resolved.

RELEGATION DOG FIGHT

While the top two teams battle it out for the main prize, Eleven Arrows, Blue Boys and Rundu Chiefs are fighting to remain in the Premiership for next season, when the division will expand to 16 teams.

Arrows, who host Blue Waters on Saturday, are 10th on 16 points, which is the same total as eleventh-placed Blue Boys, while bottom team Chiefs, who play Tigers away, are a further point adrift.

As it stands, Chiefs will be automatically relegated, while Blue Boys will be involved in a series of play-off matches against the runner-ups from the North East, North West and Southern first division streams.

Citizens, Touch amp Go and Julinho have already been promoted to the NPL.

Blue Boys and Chiefs need to win in order to preserve their status, while Arrows will remain a top flight club if results go against their rivals.

Source : The Namibian