African Stars concluded an imperious season when they were crowned the inaugural Debmarine Namibia Premiership champions after beating Young Brazilians 6-1 on 13 May 2023.
They completed a brilliant campaign on 73 points, consisting of 22 wins, seven draws and only one defeat. Their title triumph was hardly in question, but rather whether they could finish the season unbeaten. It was not to be, however, as they lost 2-1 to Blue Waters in Walvis Bay on 15 April. But that would be their only defeat in a remarkable season, during which they scored the most goals (62) and conceded the least (15).
Stars’ dominance was hardly evident at the start of the campaign when teams like Blue Waters, Okahandja United, and Life Fighters were the early front runners. After Stars drew 1-1 against Tura Magic on 19 November, they were only lying sixth on the log.
However, a week later Stars started a great run of eight successive victories. When Tigers finally managed to take some points off them in a goalless draw on 29 January 2023, they were well ahead in the title race, having built up a seven-point lead.
Stars continued to stretch their unbeaten run, beating Citizens 5-1 on 5 February, and archrivals Black Africa 6-1 a week later. When they beat Julinho 3-0 on 2 April, they were already 17 points ahead of the second-placed Blue Waters and the title race was effectively over.
Their only defeat came against Blue Waters a fortnight later, but by then the title race was a foregone conclusion, and Stars sealed their triumph in style with a 3-1 win against Okahandja United. Stars had a well-balanced side, laden with experience and several national players, as well as some of the most exciting emerging talents in the league. Amongst the counted former national captain Ronald Ketjijere, Dynamo Fredericks, Emilio Martin, Immanuel Heita, Charles Hambira, Joslin Kamatuka and Willy Stephanus, as well as the evergreen defender Pat Nevin Uanivi. The upcoming youngsters included Edmar Kamatuka, Hiha Katjivena, Uetuuro Kambato, Owen Damaseb and Abram Tjahikika.
Although Stars completely dominated the league, some other clubs also had successful campaigns.
Blue Waters were one of the early frontrunners, but they eventually finished a distant second on 61 points after Stars pulled away from the pack. They lost two of their star players, Aprocius Petrus and Prins Tjiueza, who joined Kosovo Premier League side Liria Pritzren. But under wily coach Lucky Shipanga, they have unearthed a new generation of stars that will give them hope for the future.
Youthful players like Steven Damaseb, Junior Petrus and Arend Aboubakir have already broken into the #TafelLgerBraveWarriors, while other youngsters to keep an eye out for include Lazarus Andjengo, Tuhafeni David, Lesley Kukuweb and Pius Markias.
Life Fighters from Otjiwarongo had a good campaign, finishing third overall on 51 points. Otjiwarongo, was very well represented on the final log standing, with Mighty Gunners, finishing one point behind their neighbours in fourth place.
Unam had a slow start to the league, and by the halfway stage were only in ninth position. However, they finished strongly to eventually place fifth on the log, while two of their young midfielders, Ngero Katua and Paulus Amutenya forced their way into the national squad.
Okahandja United also had a successful campaign, being amongst the early frontrunners before dropping down to finish sixth. Established clubs like Tigers, Orlando Pirates, and Civics all had a challenging campaign to finish mid-table.
In an unexpected turn of events, Black Africa, renowned for their legacy as record league champions, faced a challenging season that saw them finish just below the top contenders. While this marked a significant change from their previous achievements, it also presented an opportunity for growth and renewal as they experienced their first relegation since the premier league’s inception over three decades ago.
I have enjoyed blogging for you, and I look forward to many more opportunities like this. Thanks to Namibia’s finest lager, Tafel Lager, for giving me this platform, till next time, I am signing out.