The fight for survival at the bottom of the Premier League has provided more excitement than a television drama week in and week out as Arrows, Hotspurs and United Stars battle it out to stay in the League. Rundu-based Stars are about to make history by becoming the first team from the north-east to survive in the NPL. For Arrows a draw will count in their favour, but for Stars anything less than an outright win will send them right back to the first division, a situation they have been in before, having been relegated twice in the past. If Arrows don’t get a point they will be relegated for the second time. That would be a big blow to the coastal football supporters, not only for fans of Arrows but also for Blue Waters’ supporters and would mean that there won’t be coastal derbies. First division hopefuls Blue Boys and Swakopmund Football Club failed to make an impact.
There won’t be much to separate Arrows and Stars as both clubs come to the game with mixed results from their last two games: Arrows won 2-0 against Tigers in the capital two weeks ago and looked like they had secured their place in the NPL only to receive a blow last weekend after they where thumped 3-1 by African Stars. For United Stars their 2-2 draw against Civics two weeks ago seems to have ended their hopes of survival, but things started to change after they collected three points at SKW last weekend. The two sides are now level on 17 points and are separated only by a -3 goal difference.
Arrows’ goal aggregate is -15 while Stars are on -18. Arrows will go into the match as favorites as they are on home ground, but Stars have been quite unpredictable since April and have lost only once in their last five league matches: that was against Blue waters and have since collected 8 points from their last five games. They have now gained more points than even Pirates who got five from their last five games while Arrows has so far picked up seven in that run.
During their last encounter in Rundu, Stars won 2-0. If Stars win the match they will be joined by Rundu Chiefs who just gained promotion to the 2012/2013 MTC/NPL after wrapping up the northern Stream first division over the past weekend, meaning that it will be the first time for Rundu to have two clubs in the NPL.
The future of their coaches also depends on the outcome of this game. “Football is football, I can’t say it will be the same (score line 2-0) that we won against them (Arrows) in Rundu, because it will not be all the same players for Arrows. They are confident and fully prepared for the game,” said Ernest Kupe coach of United Stars.
“Last week we were poor against African stars. We just had to forget about that defeat, which we did. We deserve to stay up as there has been an improvement, but it will be a big ask as they (United stars) will be prepared and boosted by their recent win. I had a briefing with my players last Saturday after the defeat and the mood in the camp is high, but they will respond to that as this will be like a cup final for us,” said Arrows coach Woody Jacobs. Jacobs also played down rumours of him stepping down if Arrows fail to beat the drop: “Yes I would like to stay, but it will all depend on the management as I am only given the job until end of the season.”
Chairman and United Stars club owner, John Paul, said his team is excited about their upcoming clash at the coast, adding that the players will be rewarded if they manage to stay in the League. “Currently they are being paid a bonus for every win,” said the former striker of Stars.