’Keeping Title Will Be Tough’

AFRICAN Stars coach Nicholas Woody Jacobs believes retaining the Namibia Premier League title will be a tall order for his newly crowned champions as his side is due for a significant revamp for next season.

Jacobs said that a number of the club’s long serving stalwarts were contemplating retirement after Stars claimed their first league title since 2010 on Sunday and in the process ended Black Africa’s four-year stranglehold on the country’s premier division crown.

After being made to put their celebrations on hold when they were trumped 2-1 by Tigers on Saturday, Stars hammered relegated Rebels 4-0 at a poorly attended match at the Sam Nujoma Stadium the following day to ensure that the club lifted the title with a match to spare.

“We are super happy. It is nice to wrestle the title from Black Africa who have been dominating our football for quite some time,” Jacobs told reporters.

“Although they did not come to witness [the crowing] today, I have to give a big thank you to our supporters, they were phenomenal. Every time you come to a packed stadium, they give you that boost,” Jacobs said.

“It’s hard work that paid off. Throughout the season we have been consistent. We have been winning games that people were not giving us a chance… telling us that our team is an old age home with so many experienced players that we have. But I think that was the key factor leading us to this title and I am just elated and at a loss for words,” he added.

TRANSITION

While paying homage to the club’s veteran players, Jacobs admitted that his ageing stars would find the going tough next season.

While their closest rivals BA, Tigers and Tura Magic are brimming with youthful exuberance, Stars have the oldest squad in the NPL, a factor that may yet prove telling in the race for honours next season. At age 39, first choice goalkeeper Athiel Mbaha is not expected to continue playing top tier football beyond the current season.

Stars other veteran regulars include key defenders Freedom Puriza (35), Ferdinand Karongee (31) and Denis Ngueza (30), midfielders Riaan Cloete (34), Edwin Korukuve (33) and Milton Chapo (30), as well as the lanky Elvis Tjivasera (30), who operates as a defender or centre-forward.

“Every good thing comes to an end. I think the team needs transition. It has to go into transition. This was the last thing they could do. I think there are some players who still have some fuel in the tank to carry on for a season or two,” he said.

Stars youth comes in the form of 23 year-old pacey forward Joslin Kamatuka and utility player Treasure Kauapirura, who is 25.

The rest of the team has an average age of 29.

“But there is a need for improvement. There’s a need for younger vibrant players. It’s not to say that we are discarding the ones that did a job for us but we have to move on,” Jacobs said.

“Some of our great players have to call it a day and with some we have to take stock and see where we need to fill. We have already identified players who we think should come in,” he added. “Winning the league [next season] will be a little far-fetched with a new team but given the magnitude of this club, the drive of the fans and even the neutrals, we expect this team to do well.

“The pressure will always be on the coach to do well. But come next season, you will see African Stars trying to defend its title,” said Jacobs.

Source : The Namibian