Coach Raises the Stakes

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By Confidence Musa The Brave Warriors coach has raised the stakes ahead of this weekend’s Cosafa tournament by calling on all Namibians not be affected by the national team’s low rankings on the FIFA pecking order. Speaking to New Era on the sidelines of yesterday’s training session, Big Ben Bamfuchile said Namibia will do the trick come Saturday if the players and the fans “accept the position in which the team is in at the moment”. Malawi, Zambia and Seychelles are all ranked higher than the Brave Warriors in the FIFA standings. “We cannot deny it, if we deny our position we would be doing ourselves injustice. The first step to success is to look at where you are and then plan how you can get out of that situation and that is just what I have been telling the camp,” said the gaffer. After the recent World Cup competition, FIFA adopted a new ranking system where Malawi now lie 19 in Africa and 80 in the world. Seychelles is on position 37 and 141 in Africa and the world respectively. Zambia’s Chipolopolo is the most rated team at this tournament and favourites on paper, lying 12 in the continent and 62 in the world. The Brave Warriors are number 45 in the African line-up and 167 in the world. There are only 51 countries in African football. “We will get over our current position through discipline, commitment, implementation of maximum training and having all forces, the sponsors and the association pulling to one side,” said the coach. “Outright victory will not come today, it may not come tomorrow but the nation should understand that we are still in a phase of planting and watering. There is a time to sow and a time to reap. I have told the players that we are at an infant stage, according to the FIFA statistics and we must accept that, in order to get out of that. Evidence of growth will be proved by victory. ” Under the new Fifa system there has been the introduction of major changes in points allocation and the assessment of the strength of a team’s opposition which also incorporate such factors as the importance of the match and regional strength. Fifa will now take into account games played over the past four years yet the old system only counted results over the past eight games, which distorted current form, and the Brave Warriors were always hard hit. The old computer ranking system awarded team ranking points based on the importance of the games, for example the World Cup finals against friendly matches, the relative strength of the teams, goals scored and conceded, home or away, etc. The new system takes into account most of the same factors, but weights them differently. The old system only gave the most weight to games in the World Cup finals, the continental championships and World Cup qualifiers. Besides the effect of the World Cup matches, the change in the evaluation period has also led to a major shift. Now only the last four years (48 months) count, with each year weighted differently. This explains why Seychelles are on top of Namibia, as they have played more friendly matches and beat Zimbabwe and Eritrea in the 2004 Nations Cup qualifier. Their June Tri-Nations tournament, in which they emerged winners, has come into effect. Bamfuchile said any national team activity should therefore become attractive to the players since a very strong base already exists. “Players need to start competing to play in the national team and that can be improved by putting in attractive packages in the squad. We need to give our local players such hope. If there is competition, confidence will increase from those that will have made the grade into the squad.” Bamfuchile says he is aware of the role fans play in the team and has an assurance for their thirst for victory. “The fans should know that I will be behind the players, no matter what result and they too should be behind the team even when the chips are down. That is how hope is built and maintained,” said the former assistant coach of the 1998 African Nations Cup finalists. Bamfuchile indicated that he might not re-jig his final team even if the late coming quartet of Richard Gariseb, Sydney Plaatjies, Zico Paulus and Robert Nauseb make it into the squad. “All players have to be tested and prove themselves during the training session. I will be more comfortable with players who come into camp seven days before a match.” Bamfuchile last night trimmed the squad to 20, plus the awaited quartet.