Eastern Chiefs ‘not getting relegated’

Netball action from a premier league match between NCS and Otjozondjupa. Photo: Helge Schütz

MTC Namibia Netball Premiership strugglers Eastern Chiefs intend to use home ground advantage to kick-start their revival when battles resume at Divundu this weekend.

Stationed third-last in the 12-team topflight division, the newcomers will be looking to feed off home support to win three matches in two days and move out of the relegation places.

Chiefs have won only twice and lost six times thus far in a nightmare start to the season. They face Otjozondjupa Nampol, who are four points and two positions better off, to open tomorrow’s action, before taking on Unam Jaguars, who like Chiefs have four points to their name.

The Jaguars have played two more matches than Chiefs and lost eight times.

On Sunday, the hosts entertain bottom side Tsumeb, who have lost all of their nine matches to date.

“We are in the relegation zone, of course, but we will not remain there forever,” said Chris Kamaghoko, the Eastern Chiefs Netball Club coordinator.

“With time, with the games that we are playing this weekend and the games that are coming, surely we will move out of the relegation zone.

“So far, the season has not been a good one to us, but I would not say that we performed bad. It is just a matter of the fixtures, the way it was designed. We started with great teams, of course, and we did not perform bad. So far, so good.”

A number mitigating factors have contributed to their poor run of results, which Kamaghoko believes they will eventually come to terms with.

Other than spending most of the campaign on the road and near-misses, Chiefs also have to deal with not having the full team train together ahead of matches.

“For us to do better actually as a club, there are a number of things that are supposed to happen, which the current circumstances are beyond our control. The biggest factor that is hindering our performance is that our players are scattered. We have students in Katima [Mulilo], Nkurenkuru, and Windhoek,” Kamaghoko said.

“To get all your players together to train for a particular match is something that is practically impossible. Financial resources are not really available for us to be able to transport our players to training grounds. Our head coach is situated in Rundu and we are in Bagani village,” said Kamaghoko of the clubs challenges.

Nonetheless, he remains confident that the team will find a way to remain in the country’s elite league.

“With regard to our target as a club, this is our first season, we are newcomers in the league. What we are doing at the moment is for us to acquire practical experience on the environment of the premier league. We are doing everything possible to remain there. Our actual competition can only start in our second season within the league,” said Kamaghoko, who has called on the whole of Divundu to rally behind them this weekend.

“I am sure the team will not be under pressure, but rather they will be excited playing in front of their fans who will cheering them and giving them that support they need in each and every game. It will be fantastic to play in front of our fans this time around.”

Meanwhile, at the other end, second-placed Namibian Navy will be hoping that the three-week lay-off has not affected their rhythm.

They do not play until Sunday, which, given the long distance to travel from their Swakopmund base to the north-eastern town, represents an advantage.

The Navy will afford an extra day of recovery for their jet-lagged stars, who were involved in the Desert Jewels’ relatively successful journey to Australia for the Pacific Netball Series, with the national team only returning home yesterday.

With log leaders NCS not in action, the Navy, who have played a match less the team above them, can take over to spot with a handsome victory over third-placed Afrocat Lions.

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