Thriller Expected As Stars Take On Pirates

ARCHRIVALS African Stars and Orlando Pirates clash in an NPL Round 17 match on Wednesday night, and another thriller can be expected after both teams coming off morale-boosting victories last weekend.

Stars beat Eleven Arrows after a last minute goal by Ferdinand Karongee, while Pirates beat Tigers 2-1 after coming back from a goal down, with two second half goals.

The results saw both teams closing the gap on the leaders Black Africa and Tigers, with only five points separating the top four teams, while Stars and Pirates both have a game in hand on Tigers.

Stars’ coach Woody Jacobs praised his players for a professional performance.

“Some people said it was an unconvincing display but that’s not a problem for me. We dominated the game and deserved to win, we left it late, but the goal showed the character and belief of this team, and I believe we can still win the title,” he said.

Jacobs said he expected a tough challenge from Orlando Pirates.

“I thought Pirates were quite fortunate to beat Tigers, after Tigers scored early and dominated the first half, but Pirates upped the tempo with two goals in the second half. I expect Pirates will be highly motivated and will up their game against us but we are ready for that. Our focus is to win the game and to collect three points, which we have to do if we want to challenge for the title.

Jacobs said he was a bit concerned with their finishing and had been working on that during training.

“We defended well against Civics, but we must improve our scoring and make use of the chances that we get. We have been working on our goal scoring and hopefully the guys will put their scoring boots on against Pirates,” he said.

Stars will be missing wingers Eslin Kamuhanga and Joslin Kamatuka who are still out to long term injuries, while goalie Max Mbaeva recently recovered from a knee injury, although Athiel Mbaha is expected to start against Pirates.

Besides that they have a full squad and Jacobs said his players were starting to display a new-found belief that they could still win the title.

“The guys are starting to believe that they can do it and they are giving it their all. If we beat Pirates we can narrow the gap on BA to two points and to one point on Tigers,” he said.

“Black Africa still have to play Tigers and it will be very interesting if we can pile on the pressure. We still have to play BA and Tigers so I believe the title race will go down to the wire. I believe I have the team and the players have shown they have the personality to push us through,” he added.

Pirates’ coach Ali Akan was travelling to Otjiwarongo and was unavailable for comment, but his team, too, are still in with a chance of winning the title.

They have been inconsistent, losing to teams like Civics and Eleven Arrows, but against Tigers they showed they can rise to the occasion and beat the best.

There has been little to choose between Stars and Pirates this year, with Pirates winning their first round league encounter 2-1, while Stars beat Pirates 1-0 in the Biest Namibia Cup.

Tonight’s encounter should be another thrilling affair with little to choose between the two teams. Pirates have a good mixture of youth and experience with experienced defenders like Brian Gurirab, Ivan Makina and Steven Goagab and midfielders Mervin Areseb, Chikondi Likwembi, Engelhard Kahua and Stanley Kamesiepo playing alongside exciting attackers like Terdius Uiseb, Nicky Musambani, Innocent van der Westhuizen and their midfield talisman Gustav Isaack.

Stars have a star-studded side full of national players like Athiel Mbaha, Freedom Puriza, Pat Uanivi, Dennis Ngueza, Riaan Cloete, Johannes Seibeb, Meraai Swartbooi, Bradley Wermann and Razundara Tjikuzu, while players like McBride Ndjavera and Heinrich Kazerua have also been in fine form this season. The match starts at 19h00 at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.

Source : The Namibian