Being involved in a relegation scrap might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for Onambula United coach, Abed Teofilus, he said he is calm and collected.
As the final fixture of the season looms, Teofilus said he did not expect the season to be as tough as has been, and a fight to avoid the drop was the last thing he would have planned for, but regardless remains optimistic of remaining in the North-West First Division (NWFD).
“We are confident we can stay up. We have two games left and we are going to take those very seriously. I know that is so tight that even if we lose one game, it will not necessarily be the end of the road, we can still have one last game to recover, but at this stage, every point is crucial. The odds are in our favour, I believe,” said Teofilus.
Of course, relegation does not happen in a day. The final blow is delivered in a moment, but develops over the course of a long and gruelling season, often filled with hurdles and even bad luck.
Robber Chanties, sitting on four points, were set to be relegated from NWFD before the team withdrew from the league due to reasons that yet remain unclear. In the same vein, Teofilus points to several other key factors that he believes led to them being in these dire circumstances.
“We started the season very slowly. The weather was also not on our side. We started the season playing in Otsandi stadium, which was a fortress for us. But due to heavy rains, we were forced to lay our home games in Olukwangula stadium in Oshakati and we haven’t won a single game there,” lameted Teofilus.
With regards to his on-field personnel, the coach said injuries weren’t that much bothersome, except for his chief goalkeeper, Iipinge Naphtali who was out through injury for a significant period.
“We also lost one of our veteran defenders, Professor Shilikomwenyo who could no longer make it to matches due to work commitments,” said Teofilus.
Despite these unplanned setbacks that his team have had to navigate, Teofius said they have also been the architects of their own destiny. He directs his frustration at key away games that he believes his team should have done better in.
“Against Africans Lions and Eleven Warriors from Grootfontein, we made some rather silly mistakes that cost us the game. We threw the game away when we could have gotten something,” said the coach, adding, “It was doubly painful because African Lions only lead us by two points.”
Onambula United lost both games 3-2 back-to-back between 14-15 February 2015. The club endured its worst spell during November where they went four games without a win, including a 5-0 trump by log leaders, Young Chiefs.
“The first round match against Young Chiefs was one of the toughest matches this season, even though we beat them in the second round. Our other tough games was our first round defeat to Young Stars, and Black African Warriors, which we lost 3-0,” recalled Teofilus.
The reality of relegation has not escaped the coach, and he has made sure his players know just that.
“The reality is, if we don’t win, we’ll find ourselves in a place where we don’t want to be. Even with the little get in the first division, we’ll get even less than that if we allow ourselves to get relegated. I’m trying to reach the players at a psychological level, because they have to fear the drop. We are one of the few teams that have been in the first division for a while, so we don’t want to change that,” said Teofilus, adding, “But at the same time, I’m happy no team has beaten us convincingly. It’s not over yet. We will fight for our lives.”
Onambula United have done relatively well in the first division, including winning the Hansa Pilsener Cup in 2007. They face Golden Bigs and KK Palace in their last two games. Both clubs are safe from the drop, while KK Palace are second on the table.