All eyes will be on Ronnie Kanalelo this weekend as the national soccer team, the Brave Warriors, go to war in Gaborone. The spotlight will be on Kanalelo and his charges in anticipation of honour and victory after the team’s many years of being in the soccer wilderness.
Kanalelo will have to show his prowess, he has to prove that he is not another shadow behind Ben Bamfuchile. But more so, the team has to demonstrate great resolve and clinical finishing by scoring goals.
To achieve this, a number of things have to be in place. First, we have to field the right team. Kanalelo has to field the A team, his very best players. This has to happen from the word go. There is no room or space for experimentation or trials because much is at stake in this game. The best of the Brave Warriors have to take to the field when the first whistle blows. We have to unsettle our opponents from the word go by hitting them hard where it matters – goals.
This also calls for a good game plan. Such game plan has to be workable, flexible and one that can produce good results. It has to seek to exploit the team’s strength in order to make up for whatever weaknesses the team has.
Put differently, the game plan has to be simple, methodical but thorough.
However, it goes without saying that the battle for this game is going to be won in the midfield and that is where we have to flex our muscles and win the ball. Namibia has quality players in this department and that is where we have to make a difference.
The game in Botswana presents an opportunity for our young squad and players to showcase their skills. There will be foreign scouts out there to identify talent. Therefore, here is a chance for players to market themselves and aim for bigger things in life.
As they go east, the Brave Warriors carry the nation’s hopes. They dare not disappoint a country that yearns for the class of 1998 and the restoration of the glorious old days.
Over the last six years the national football team, alias the Brave Warriors, has failed to progress beyond the first round in the regional Cosafa Castle Cup tournament. In fact, except for 1997 and 1999 when the team reached the finals of the competition, the Warriors have been failing at the first hurdle.
Tomorrow will be the 7th time in a row that the Warriors will try and win their first game in the competition when they face Botswana in their own backyard in Gaborone.
The memories of Botswana, alias the Zebras, eliminating the Warriors from the competition in the first round in 2005 at the Independence Stadium are still fresh. However, there is a general feeling of optimism in the Warriors camp and among supporters that the national team can finally progress to the latter stages of the competition.
And the reason for being optimistic could be justified by the fairly impressive results the national team has recorded in the past, especially in the African Nations Cup qualifiers. In the last five games the Warriors have recorded three victories, a draw and lost once. This is definitely not a bad record given that two years ago the country slumped down the FIFA and CAF rankings after failing to record a singly victory in four years.
But there is real hope that Namibian football is on its way up and with a chance to qualify for the African Nations Cup in Ghana next year if we beat Ethiopia in October – thus getting a positive result tomorrow and Sunday will be significant. It will not only boost the morale of the team but will set the ball rolling for Namibia to enjoy the feast of football which is about to start in Africa.
If the Warriors can make it to Ghana next year, the next stop will be Angola for the 2010 African Nations Cup and then the ultimate football showpiece, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. But as the saying goes, every journey starts with a single step, and the Warriors need to start the journey tomorrow and win the battle in Botswana.
They need not fear as they are not alone. Dozens of members of the Brave Warriors Supporters Club have made their way to Botswana to cheer their team. Among them is the Patron of the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and Namibia’s first Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob, who will be leading the troops on foreign soil.
So, Go Brave Warriors Go.