Stars, Pirates Primed for Biest Cup Battle

SOCCER fans can expect a humdinger of a match on Wednesday when arch rivals African Stars and Orlando Pirates clash in the last-16 round of the Biest Namibia Cup at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.

There is always an extra spark when these two giants of Namibian football meet and with the added incentive of reaching the cup final and the N$550 000 first prize, tonight’s encounter should provide lots of drama and excitement.

Stars’ coach Woody Jacobs said they were well prepared and ready to give their all.

“The spirit is high and our preparations have gone well. Our fixtures have been a bit congested since we have to play three matches in seven days, but we have a big squad and I believe in the ability of my players.”

According to Jacobs, Stars have no injury concerns, except for the long-term injuries of wingers Joslin Kamatuka and Eslin Kamuhanga, and all the players are raring to go. He added that Stars will also be out to take revenge after losing their first round league encounter 2-1 to Pirates.

“We want to get the better of Pirates because they beat us in our first round league match. It won’t be easy, but we’ve got a plan and it’s going to be about the players’ desire to do well. We need to defend well, and Gazza, (Heinrich Kazerua) who is back to his best will lead our attack. We also have match winners in Meraai Swartbooi, Riaan Cloete and Bradley Wermann, so we will attack them and try and strike a balance between a good defence and going forward,” he said.

Jacobs said he was keen to win the Biest Namibia Cup.

“As a coach I’d like to win the cup competition. Last year Stars had an easier path to the final but thats no excuse, if you want to win, you have to beat the best,” he said.

“I hope Namibian fans will turn out in big numbers because they will see an exciting match,” he added.

Orlando Pirates’ coach Ali Akan said they were positive and looking forward to the match.

“We are feeling very positive. We know that Stars are the defending champions and they have very experienced players, and their confidence will be back after their 5-0 victory against Rundu Chiefs. It will be a very tough game but we will fight all the way because we want to be in the cup final,” he said.

According to Akan, Pirates’ experienced defender Brian Gurirab is not available after damaging his knee ligaments against Tura Magic last week, and he will be out ‘for a couple of weeks.’

Besides that Akan has a full squad to choose from, but he said that the recent rains and the lack of a training ground hampered their preparation.

“We’ve had a difficult time with the rain and some schools did not want to give their grounds for us to train on, so it affected our training,” he said.

Akan said both teams knew each other well and fans could expect an action-packed match.

“Both sides know each other well, so I think it will be a fast, open game and it will depend on who is hungrier on the night,” he said.

Akan called on the Namibia Football Association to appoint a competent referee for the match after complaining about recent decisions against them, especially in their match against Tura Magic last Friday, when Pirates had a goal by Marcello Haraseb disallowed.

“The referees have made crucial mistakes in the last few games so I call on the NFA to make sure that we have a competent referee for the match,” he said.

The Pirates v Stars encounter will start at 21h00 and will be preceded by another last-16 round match between Ramblers and Khomas First Division side Kaizen Football Academy at 19h00. Football fans who purchased match tickets for 28 February, when these sides were supposed to meet but the matches were postponed due to rain, are urged to take their tickets as they will still be valid, while tickets are still on sale at Computicket at Shoprite and Checkers countrywide for N$30 each.

Source : The Namibian