A last minute goal by substitute Ninja Karongee gave African Stars a 2-1 victory against Civics on Wednesday night. It was a cruel blow for Civics who seemed to have done enough to hold on for a point, but a defensive error put paid to their hopes, when Karongee pounced onto a weak back pass and rounded Civics’ keeper to put the ball into the net.
In an evenly balanced match both sides produced quality football for the close to 1 000 fans who braved the wet conditions. The match started in driving rain and although it later cleared up, the pitch remained slippery making conditions underfoot difficult for the players.
Stars went on the offensive first and attacked strongly down the flanks, with Brouwers Litombo, Dennis Ngueza and Edison Muheau prominent. Robert Nganjone also had a fine match in midfield, switching play effectively to the flanks.
Civics were bolstered by Rudi Louw, Victor Helu and Bradley Wermann, who are all on loan from first division side Monitronics, and especially Helu made his presence felt with a hardworking performance in midfield.
Stars took the lead on 27m from a corner by Muheau. The ball was initially headed away but Desmond April followed up with a well-placed header which hit the back of the net.
Civics however equalised just before halftime when Rudi Louw headed into the net from a corner by Franklin April.
There were few chances after the break as the two sides weighed up evenly against each other, but just before the final whistle Karongee pounced to give Stars victory.
Civics’ manager Paul Stramis told Namibia Sport that it was a bitter blow.
“I cant understand why the referee didn’t allow extra time because there were a lot of injuries but the final whistle went directly after Ninja’s goal. I was busy attending to our right back Sedekia Haukambe who was injured on the touchline, when Stars exploited this space and scored. To lose like this, in the final minute, really hurts, because we deserved a draw at least, but this is football and we have to accept it,” he said.
Despite the loss Stramis said that he was hopeful for the future.
“There is no need to press the panic buttons yet, because its still early in the season. But we need to strengthen our squad because we will only have 18 players on our books, when the new year starts,” he said.