Brave Warriors Go to War

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By Confidence Musariri WINDHOEK The country’s senior national soccer team, the Brave Warriors go to war at 3pm tomorrow afternoon in what will be the biggest battle of their 2008 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaignÃÆ’Æ‘ÂÂÃÆ’ÂÀÃ…¬ÃÆ’ÂÃ’šÂ¬Ã‚Âthe Group 10 showdown with Libya at the Independence Stadium in the capital. Coach Ben Bamfuchile, under immense pressure to collect three points in order to keep the country within the reach of Ghana 2008, has not had the best of luck in this campaign. There are alleged rocky relations with senior players and the withdrawal of dependable lieutenants. He will however have to put that behind him and rely on the charges available for the Brave Warriors’ second CAF win in their own fortress. A squad laced with young blood in all departments, Bamfuchile’s troops carry the hopes of a nation. It’s been a bumpy journey as goals have been hard to come by, but tomorrow Sidney Plaatjies will carry the country’s lot alongside Colleen Benjamin upfront. And it will largely depend on which Letu Shatimuene turns up at the Independence Stadium. On his day, Lua Lua as Shatimuene is christened, can wrap up the match on the first whistle. It does not need God’s lifetime to accept that the Brave Warriors play beautiful touch and go football, but scoring has been the worst enemy for the team. However, Bamfuchile is certain to deploy debutant Meraai Swartbooi on the flanks with the aptitude cover of Oliver Risser in the midfield. The departure of George Hummel might be a bitter pill to swallow but it certainly is a blessing in disguise. Tomorrow will provide ample opportunity for Maleagi Marley Ngarizemo and Gotlieb Nakuta to prove that they are the best defenders to come out of the post-Burkina Faso age. Hummel will be missed but not tomorrow. Marley and Nakuta are the local league’s most trusted rear guards with a no-nonsense attitude. With an armour platted central midfield that is expected to be marshalled by Risser, Lua Lua, Robert Nauseb and Swartbooi, Bamfuchile seems comfortable with an all out 4-4-2 formation. Libya have been in the wilderness of African football since 1982 when they hosted the Nations Cup and lost the final on penalties to Ghana. They seem now to be on their feet and are not to be underrated; they brought fresh recruits with most players from their own premiership. And five of their players are from champions Al Ittihad, a club that is making waves in the Confederation of African football. Libya came by bus, surreptitiously sneaking into the country from Botswana, trying to adapt to the local altitude, and might be fresher for battle tomorrow. Captain Taek El Taib was the team’s nuclear weapon at the 2006 Nations Cup where Libya qualified courtesy of a home draw with Sudan but is not with the team tomorrow. And so is Libya’s danger man in the first leg, Nadir Kara. With a team weak on paper, Libya hope to apply a 3-5-2 formation according to Abadouda Sokni, the head of the Libyan delegation who was zooming with confidence. “We are here for three points. We know Namibia is a developed team but playing away won’t intimidate us,” he said. Captain Nadir Tarhouni is the leading marksman in the squad and is one of the six players retained from last year’s Nations Cup in Egypt. A look at the videos of the 2006 Nations Cup shows the Libyan playmaker’s weakness. He has a tendency to dwell on the ball too long, and with defenders with a talent as fructuous as Nakuta and Marley, his ball hogging will not be a difficult temptation to mark. Perhaps the best thing to have come out of Libya is how they embarrass their opponents with draws. They qualified to the last Nations Cup with a nil-all draw with Sudan, and crashed Morocco out of Egypt 2006 with a 0-0 draw. And already they held Botswana to a goalless draw on their way to Windhoek. No doubt draws work in their way. “In the first match, Namibia played well and created more chances than us, but football is played by eleven people,” said Sokni oblivious of Namibia’s 12th element, the fans. Pressure is also on Ben Bamfuchile who is well aware that calls for his head will be imminent if the results are not pleasing. Former Brave Warriors, Rudi Louw, Congo Hindjou and Denzyl Bruwer who spent yesterday afternoon in the Libyan camp, wished their successors luck but said heads must roll if results do not come our way. With this little knowledge of Libya, the mammoth task is for the first eleven players to score. Score early to keep the nation’s hopes alive.