Amseb’s late strike sinks Ingwe… Sweet revenge for Samaria

Windhoek: All the trauma of the past week that had Namibian champions African Stars embroiled in a bitter war of words with departed coach, Jacobs, were temporarily forgotten, at least for the time being.

The new-look Reds saw off eternal rivals, Tigers, to claim the second edition of the annual Standard Bank Super Cup under freezing conditions at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Saturday.

Under the shrewd stewardship of returning mentor, Bobby Samaria, who returned to the Katutura glamour football club for a second spell, the Reds pulled out all stops to deny a fired-up Tigers outfit a victory that was well within the Shandumbala Boys’ reach.

Samaria, who guided a fairly average Tigers team to victory in the lucrative Bidvest Cup, was surprisingly offloaded by Tigers, but dusted himself off in the most dignified fashion and returned to his happy hunting grounds this week to teach his former protégés a few familiar routines.

It was a match made in heaven: both teams qualified for the lucrative Cup by virtue of having come out tops in the country’s most sought-after competitions, the coveted MTC Premiership title and the revered Bidvest Cup.

Tigers may feel hard done by as they dominated proceedings throughout the entire 90 minutes – only to be let down by poor decision-making in the final quarter. Stars, on the other hand, kept their shape at the back. They defended resolutely and did not to concede.

It was a see-saw affair in the opening stages, with both teams failing take advantage of the few goal-scoring chances that came their way. However, it was Tigers who were asking questions from their opponents, but that decisive goal remained elusive.

After having to play second fiddle to last year’s winners, Black Africa, Stars were not to be denied this time round, but may have Lady Luck to thank for their victory. The Reds were on the backfoot for the better part of the encounter, but somehow held on for dear life to fashion an unconvincing win.

It took a moment of magic from new sensation, Obrey Amseb, to break the deadlock with a thunderbolt shot from almost 40 meters out that left veteran Tigers shot-stopper, Fox Nambundunga, catching flies with 15 minutes left on the clock.

The troublesome quartet of evergreen Letu Shatimuene, Naftal Petrus, Simon Shikokola and Esko Kavela took turns to harass their opponents Marius Kotze, Meraai Swartbooi, Bradley Wermann and repeatedly challenged midfielder, Dockeys Cloete, in an action-packed midfield battle.

They almost opened the scoreboard when veteran defender Pat-Nevin Uanivi connected well with Swartbooi’s delivery from a corner kick, but his powerful header went inches off target. Towering fullback, Elvis “Porridge” Tjivasera, also missed the target in similar fashion – much to the amazement of the Stars bench.

Providing proof of the notion that age is just a number, the seemingly ageless Shatimuene proved a constant thorn in the flesh of the clearly overworked Stars’ rearguard, with admirable darting runs and clever play that left the Reds’ defense at sixes and sevens.

Ingwe enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession, but goals win games and this is exactly where the energetic Shandumbala Boys fell short. With time ticking by, Tigers looked poised for a rare victory over their nemesis, but lightning struck when the Reds broke the deadlock very much against the run of play.

Born and bred a Buccaneer, Amseb – whose old man Petrus Amseb is a self-confessed Orlando Pirates diehard – set the tone when he unbelievably defied his rookie tag by masterfully controlling a tricky ball before he let fly with a ferocious drive that sent the red and white clad Stars supporters into raptures.

Soon afterwards, Benjamin Nenkavu, Niimbondi and surprise substitute, Kaka Nekundi, all came close to leveling the score, but their desperate long-range efforts failed to trouble Athiel Mbaha in the Stars’ goal.

At the end of the day Stars walked away with a staggering N$500,000 in prize money, while Ingwe received a consolation prize of N$200,000 as runners up.