Premier League newcomers Khomas Nampol’s title credentials will be tested to the full when they take on log leaders and defending champions African Stars at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium tonight.
Khomas Nampol have surprised friend and foe alike in their debut season in the premiership, and after brushing aside Orlando Pirates 4-0 on Tuesday, they moved up to second position on the log, just one point behind Stars.
With the league now nearing the halfway stage, a victory tonight will put them at the top of the log heading into the festive break – a situation even their most ardent fans could not have predicted.
Their coach Fortune Eichab, for one, didn’t see it coming, and is at pains to emphasize that their main aim this season is just to avoid relegation.
“Obviously we want to win the match and we want to stake a claim amongst the big teams in the league, but our immediate aim is just to avoid relegation at the end of the season,” he said.
“We are on 28 points now, so if we can get three points for a win against Stars, we will pass 30 points and then I suppose we can safely say that we will survive the relegation axe this season,” he added.
“We are very excited and looking forward to the match. We are playing the defending league champions and the log leaders, so we want to embrace the situation,” he said.
Eichab said they have a near full strength squad to choose from, with only striker Erich Tsam unavailable due to injury.
“We already held a training session after our Pirates game on Tuesday and the rest are fit and raring to go,” he said.
Khomas Nampol have a strong squad including national players like Absalom Iimbondi, Denzil Haoseb, Erasmus Ikeinge and Terdius Uiseb, but Eichab said that some of their upcoming young players are also eager to make a name for themselves.
“George Frans is a young striker from Oranjemund who wants to make a name for himself. It’s not easy to come from so far and fight for a place, but he’s finding his feet at the club and settling in well.”
“We have other exciting youngsters like the left back Bollie Tjitemisa, and the midfielders Prinz Apollus and Erastus Hashipala, who all want to become household names and show that they are ready,” he added.
African Stars, meanwhile, seem to have timed their campaign to perfection as they went to the top of the log at the end of November after lying third for most of the season.
They have only lost one match so far, but the high standards they set led to the dismissal of Ghanaian coach Prince Koffie, who was replaced by former coach Marvin Mbakera. Under his leadership, Stars have won three matches in a row, including a 10-0 drubbing of Young Brazilians last weekend, and Mbakera said they are fully focussed on the Nampol encounter.
“Our preparations already started after our match against Young Brazilians and we have clear objectives. We still want to conquer Africa, but to do that we have to win the league, so that’s our aim and there are three important points up for grabs on Friday,” he said.
“We as a technical team are blessed and lucky to be able to coach such magnificent human beings – that work ethic, the fighting spirit and competition for places is there, so we are in a good space,” he said.
Mbakera said he expected a strong onslaught from Khomas Nampol.
“Every game we play is like a cup final – any team that plays African Stars always goes full out, so we will be prepared for that. The boys have really worked hard and with our loyal red army of supporters, we are looking forward to a positive outcome,” he said.
Stars certainly have a strong squad to call upon, including national players like Ronald Ketjijere, Kamaijanda Ndisiro, Charles Hambira, Edmund Kambanda and Vitapi Ngaruka, while discarded national striker and last season’s top goalscorer, Willy Stephanus, is once again setting the league alight and is now comfortably ahead on the goalscorers list with 13 goals from 12 matches.
Besides that, an exciting new crop of players has emerged with the likes of Uetuuru Kambato, Ndjiraeree Maherero, Uri Mootu, Owen Damaseb and Angelo Kuezi all starting to make a name for themselves.
It should be a cracking match that kicks off at 19h00 tonight so make sure you are there.
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