Premiership continues amid renewed passion 

Ngunzu Salazar of African Stars in action against Peter Steven of Civics. Photo: Helge Schütz

The Debmarine Namibia Premiership takes centre stage this weekend, amid renewed interest and passion for the local game following the Brave Warriors’ historic journey at Afcon 2023. 

Their success in the Ivory Coast has rubbed off and inspired local teams to reach new heights when they clash in Round 18 and 19 fixtures throughout the country. 

In the pick of the weekend’s action African Stars take on Khomas Nampol in a top-of-the-log showdown at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium on Sunday, and Stars’ coach Mervin Mbakera said the Brave Warriors’ performances and the presence of Stars’ national players Charles Hambira, Uetuuru Kambato and Kamaijanda Ndisiro at training had lifted the whole team. 

“Its a great thing what happened at Afcon. I saw a unified country – here and there there were some tribal groups on social media, but one could see as the Brave Warriors progressed, how it unified all Namibians.

“Our national players now have the responsibility to share their experience, they are in a jolly mood and especially Kambato wants to show what he has gained. Football is a game of pressure, but when you have that talent and joy during training it helps a lot,” he added. 

Stars, however, face a tough double-header, with Young Brazilians first up at Keetmanshoop after which they have to travel to Windhoek to take on Nampol 24 hours later and Mbakera said the situation was not normal. 

“Eish, this travelling – our football is not changing and we are in this predicament because we dont have enough resources. Our most important stakeholders, the players, are being affected and it’s not a normal situation,”he said. 

“Our management worked overtime to try and work around this travelling issue, so we will overnight in Mariental which will make the distance shorter on Sunday. We are taking a 25-man squad so that should be sufficient,” he added. 

Mbakera said they are targetting a maximum six points, adding that their preparations had been intense.

“The enthusiasm at training is great, all the players are trying to get into the team and it’s like a war out there, but afterwards they shake hands because we are one team. We are blessed to have such good players, and such good human beings, and we also get great support from our management and our fans,” he said. 

“The good thing now is that the senior players are also becoming protagonists on and off the pitch, the spirit is good and we also had some good friendlies last weekend in Gobabis. We beat Young African 2-1 and drew 1-1 against the NCS side competing in the Southern Stream First Division,” he added. 

Stars will be strengthened by the arrival of former Brave Warriors striker Lazarus Kaimbi and Mbakera said he brought a lot of experience.

“Laz already started training with us last year, but the transfer window was still closed. He has fitted in well and brings a lot of international experience,” he said, adding that his presence will help Awilo Stephanus in the attack. 

“Awilo has been carrying the team, he is really a professional guy and that’s also why we got Lazarus – he has the experience, he’s a smart player with an eye for goal,” he said. 

Stars beat Khomas Nampol 3-1 in their first round encounter, but Nampol coach Fortune Eichab said they had worked to correct their mistakes in that match. 

“Last time we made some silly defensive errors so we have been working to rectify those errors. Now we will have a different game plan, we won’t allow the game to open up. We want to play very good football, also as a tribute and in memory of our late president Hage Geingob,” he said. 

“We have a full squad and are ready to go. We have worked on a few new things and tweaked our formation a bit to make our defence stronger,” he added.

Third-placed FC Ongos, meanwhile, aim to maintain their title challenge with a win against Civics on Sunday, as will Eeshoke Chula Chula and Blue Waters, who both dropped points last weekend.

Chula Chula host Julinho Sporting tomorrow at Oshakti and travel to Grootfontein to take on Okakarara Young Warriors on Sunday, while Blue Waters are away to Life Fighters tomorrow and at home against Unam on Sunday. 

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