Can New Coach Deliver?

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By Kuvee Kangueehi WINDHOEK With the Castle Cosafa Cup mini-tournament merely three weeks away, the Brave Warriors’ hopes of resurrection will be pinned on their new coach, Zambian Ben Bamfuchile who signed a three-year contract with the Namibia Football Association (NFA). Bamfuchile, who had been the caretaker coach of the Zambian national side, quit the job last month to take up his new post and his first competitive match will be against the Seychelles in the Cosafa Cup. The Brave Warriors coach since taking over has rather kept a low profile and has enjoyed little attention from the local media. Bamfuchile had a few training sessions with the local potential Brave Warriors players for the past two weeks and is expected to train with the local squad until the final team is selected. The pressure on the former Zambian coach is expected to mount in the next few weeks as the Cosafa Cup mini-tournament draws closer. Namibian football fans who have not witnessed any success in the last seven years will be expecting nothing less than a semi-final place in the Cosafa Cup. He also faces the immediate task of reviving the fortunes of Namibia, who have not qualified for the African Cup of Nations since 1998. Namibian football has been going through a torrid time over the last years, the country slipping from the heady heights attained in 1997 and 1999 when they were Cosafa Castle Cup runners-up and in 1998 when they shocked African football by reaching the African Nations Cup finals in Burkina Faso. In the last six Cosafa Castle Cup competitions, Namibia have been knocked out at the first hurdle of the tournament, losing to Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Swaziland, Botswana, Angola and Botswana again in 2005. ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ºThe Brave Warriors were the surprise package of the 1997 edition, finishing second to winners Zambia and in 1998 caused a major upset by knocking out World Cup finalists South Africa at the preliminary round stage. In 1999, they were again in the final, and narrowly lost to Angola in extra time in the second leg in Windhoek. The team reached a high of 68th place in the FIFA world rankings in 1998 but have dropped right down to 161 at the start of 2006. Namibia’s first opponents Seychelles competed in the Cosafa Castle Cup for the first time last year when they played in the mini-tournament in Mauritius in February, but were beaten 3-0 by South Africa on a pond-like pitch in Curepipe. The island nation, who were granted membership of Cosafa in 1999, had been excluded from previous editions of the competition because of their failure to send a team to all of Cosafa’s youth tournaments, which is a prerequisite for participation in the Cosafa Castle Cup. But in recent years, they have fulfilled that obligation and now pit their talent against the region’s best. The Seychelles is the smallest country in Africa but have made fine strides at full international level, winning two of their matches in the 2004 African Nations Cup qualifying group, when they beat both Zimbabwe and Eritrea at home. In 2001, the country also hosted the African under-17 championships. GROUP C In Windhoek, Namibia July 22: Zambia v Malawi Namibia v Seychelles July 23 Final and third place play-off