Namibia Premier League kicks off without defending champs
By Timo Shihepo
Windhoek – After a year in hiatus, Namibia Premier League (NPL) has finally returned last weekend but saw defending champions, Tigers boycott it’s two opening fixtures.
The league came to a halt at the end of last season when the NPL administration failed to secure sponsorship after its three-year deal with MTC came to an end.
After protracted discussions with MTC and fights within the NPL, Namibia’s football was given a lifeline when MTC and First National Bank (FNB) committed to give R15 million and R5 million respectively, for the upcoming season.
The league started with a blockbuster match between African Stars and Orlando Pirates on Friday with the former getting the derby bragging rights after defeating the latter 3-1 to open the weekend full of goals for the 2017/18 NPL season.
The league, which is being played in a doubleheader format, saw Stars following up its victory with another heavy defeat of Life Fighters 5-0 on Sunday. Other results saw an exciting match as Young African defeated Young Chiefs 4-3 on Sunday after the former also defeated Chief Santos 2-0 on Saturday.
Black Africa beat Young Chiefs and Chief Santos, 1-0 and 3-0 respectively.
But what was supposed to be a Monday dominated by talking points of how many goals were scored, instead, saw the limelight stolen by defending champions’ absence from its two fixtures. The NPL office said Tigers did not register any players for the new season, failed to show up and subsequently forfeited the matches 3-0 both to UNAM and Citizens.
Tigers still have up to the 11th November 2017 to register players.
Through their lawyer, Tigers wrote to NPL that they were not ready to play in the 2017/2018 season, because the league failed to give enough time for pre-season activities. Tigers said its players are not ready and needed at least six weeks before they start playing again.
Tigers said this is necessary to avoid injuries and even death given the fact that the players have to play two games of 90 minutes in two days having not played for a year.
New NPL chairperson, Patrick Kauta – who has been instrumental in bring MTC and FNB on board – said it is not in the best interest of football to postpone the league after such a long time again.
Kauta, a lawyer, said they have dealt with the issue of the teams that do not want to take part in the league.
Black Africa FC and Orlando Pirates FC were also part of the clubs, which did not want the league to start last weekend but unlike Tigers, they showed up for all of their matches. It’s not clear if Tigers will play this weekend but it is expected that they will approach the courts.
“We gave the teams around six to seven weeks to prepare. The league will proceed. We don’t have any reason to put the league on hold after such a long time,” said Kauta.