Dimmed Stars irk Kanalelo

African Stars coach Ronnie Kanalelo. Photo: Helge Schütz

Ronny Kanalelo was critical of his African Stars charges for recurring unforced errors with the three-way title race reaching its conclusion.

Once seen as a shoo-in for league honours, Stars’ inconsistent form, coupled with three coaching changes, has opened a window of opportunity for their rivals.

The champions escaped with a 3-2 win over Okahandja United at home on Saturday. However, another defensive blunder against Blue Waters on Sunday saw them drop two points after failing to protect a lead as the match ended in 1-1 stalemate.

Nonetheless, the four points accrued from the weekend maintained Stars’ two-point advantage over Khomas Nampol, who are on 55 points, at the top of the standings.

Ongos in third spot have two games in hand and are five points adrift of Stars, but can leapfrog to the summit if they collect maximum points from their outstanding matches.

Kanalelo was scathing when appraising his team’s performance, claiming that unspecified “problems” in the team are the cause of their indifferent form.

“I know where the problems of African Stars [are]. It’s not for me to go out and talk about them. We know where the problems are and until we fix those problems [we will not progress]. It will not happen this season obviously,” Kanalelo notes.

Stars need to work for their results and not expect their rivals to roll over, the tactician says.

“It’s only three points after the final whistle when you have more goals than the opponent. You need to do the work in order to get the maximum points. Every game is a must win, whether its the first or last game,” says Kanalelo.

“If you look at the game, there’s no penetration, we can’t win balls from certain players in the middle and when we have the ball, there’s no urgency. Those were some problems we had today. They ran more than us. It wasn’t about tactics, it was just willpower, either you have it or you don’t.”

Like his coach, Stars captain and midfield enforcer Ronald Ketjijere was dissatisfied with their performance. They were “fortunate” to beat mid-table Okahandja but not so lucky against Blue Waters, he says.

“We have three games to go and we are still positive that we have to win the league. It does not matter where we will be playing. We need to go there prepared to fight for each and every ball, fight for three points,” says Ketjijere.

Nearest challengers Nampol also picked up four points at the weekend, following a 1-1 draw at the University of Namibia on Friday before scoring four without reply away to bottom side Life Fighters.

Ongos were not in action over the weekend and will know there’s no margin for error in their pursuit of the title.

In the battle for survival, Pirates (22 points) moved out of the relegation spot by a point after splitting the spoils 2-2 with Okahandja on Sunday and are just two points behind Civics in 12th. Julinho (21), who had a bye this weekend, dropped into the third relegation position.

Fighters (19) scored a rare win to lift spirits heading into the last three matches. They beat Young Brazilians 1-0 to move within a point of second-last Okakarara Young Warriors (20), who also were not in action.

However, Julinho and Okakarara have played two matches less and could drag Civics and Pirates into the relegation zone should they win their games in hand.

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