Black Africa and Orlando Pirates are expected to come out firing in their Katutura derby on Friday night as a win for either team will put them on top of the MTC Premiership.
African Stars regained the lead on 24 points when they beat Hotspurs 4-2 on Wednesday night, but second placed Pirates on 23 points and third placed Black Africa on 21 points can regain the lead if they win Friday’s derby.
There has hardly been anything separating the three Katutura giants so far this season and in recent weeks all three have had a stint at the top of the log. Stars started last week in pole position before they suffered their first defeat of the season against Civics, and BA took over at the top when they beat SKW 4-2. Two days later Pirates were back on top after beating United Stars 3-2 away in Grootfontein.
Black Africa made headlines due to events off the field last week when Ali Akan resigned as coach, seemingly after a financial dispute with club owner Ranga Haikali, although other reports indicated that Akan resigned because of overtures that Haikali had made to renowned Dutch coach Clemens Westerhof.
Haikali however denied reports that Westerhof had been appointed as technical director, saying that he would only assist Beukes for Friday’s derby before leaving Namibia.
Akan’s absence did not seem to break BA’s stride much as they thumped SKW 4-2 last week with assistant coach Dirkie Beukes in charge. With the vastly experienced Westerhof also on the bench tonight, Black Africa will be in confident mood to beat their bitter rivals.
Jerome Louis is fast approaching last season’s form when he was the league’s top goalscorer with 22 goals, while Zimbabwean striker Clarence Foroma is also in hot form.
With other attacking players like Roger Katjiteo, Bryan Bantam, Marco van Wyk and Willy Stephanus all in the fold, BA has a lot of options available.
Pirates, have a lot of depth and quality in their squad although they suffered a setback when influential midfielder Meraai Swartbooi injured his knee during their recent 2-0 defeat against Stars. Swartbooi has been Pirates’ star performer this season as well as their top goalscorer and his absence will be acutely felt.
But with experienced players like Klaas Blom, John Samson and Mohammed Ouseb in their squad and exciting youngsters like Theofelus Tsowaseb and Tinkler Kahua coming through, coach David Snewe will fancy their chances of victory.
Over the past year not much has separated the two teams. Pirates won their first league encounter 2-0 last season, but Akan was appointed as BA coach shortly afterwards and took them on an 11-match unbeaten run, during which time they beat Pirates 1-0 in their return match.
Black Africa eventually finished third on the log and Pirates sixth, although Pirates went on to win the Cell One NFA Cup.
A big crowd and a cracking match can be expected at 20h00 at the Sam Nujoma Stadium before the league winds down for the festive season.
In matches on Saturday, Ramblers host Oshakati City at the Ramblers stadium at 16h00 and United Stars host Civics at the Omulunga Stadium in Grootfontein.
The coastal derby between Eleven Arrows and Blue Waters has been postponed to 16h00 on Sunday.