Pressure Builds in Title Race

With six rounds remaining in this season’s MTC Premiership, the title race is developing into a two-horse battle between Black Africa and Tigers.

The teams are tied at the top of the log on 34 points each – six ahead of third placed Orlando Pirates, and with a game in hand, the defending champions Black Africa are well positioned to win a record fourth successive league title.

Tigers, however, have emerged as serious title contenders, and stand a great chance of ending BA’s league domination that started in 2010.

After years of mediocrity in the league – they last won the NPL title 29 years ago in 1985 – Tigers have finally developed a g team and management to mount their most serious challenge in recent years.

Coach Bobby Samaria has built up an enviable record and a winning culture since taking over two years ago, while he has also developed exciting talents like Absalom Iimbondi, Petrus Naftalie and Treasure Kauapirura.

Coupled with the attacking threat of Panduleni Nekundi, Benson Shilongo and their impressive Zimbabwean midfielder Protash Kabwe, they have given the long suffering Ingweinyama faithful renewed hope for long overdue success.

Their second round clash on 25 April is already shaping up as the league decider, but as other teams fight to stave off relegation, the final matches for both sides will be tough encounters laced with potential pitfalls.

It is here that the mental strength will play a crucial role and with BA now in familiar territory, a lot will depend on how Tigers handle the pressure.

BA have only lost one match all season and are on an unbeaten run since 26 October when they suffered a 1-0 defeat to United Stars in Rundu.

Tigers, on the other hand, have shown signs of nerves as they were held to a 2-2 home draw by the same United Stars in Round 12, and then lost a dramatic match 3-2 to Blue Waters in Round 13.

Since then, however, they have regrouped well, posting three successive victories against Civics, Arrows and Ramblers, but their mental resolve will be tested to the limit in the coming weeks.

The local Premier League title race is similar to that of the English Premier League that has seen Liverpool emerge as g challengers for the league title that they last won 24 years ago.

As a long suffering Liverpool fan I have watched this team develop under Brendan Rodgers with growing, but guarded optimism (after so many previous false dawns).

But they have been a revelation, and led by the incomparable Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, they suddenly find themselves on top of the log after an unbeaten run of eight matches.

Coach Rodgers has brought a breath of fresh air with his attacking style of play and he too has unearthed new gems in the likes of Simon Mignolet, Raheem Sterling and Phillipe Coutinho.

There is no denying their growing swagger and self belief, but do they have the mental strength and composure to win the league?

It will come down to who handles the pressure the best and with two games in hand Manchester City still hold the edge, while Chelsea and their master tactician Jose Mourinho cannot be discounted.

But with Manchester City and Chelsea still having to travel to Anfield, Liverpool hold their destiny in their own hands and this could be their year.

Source : The Namibian