By Carlos Kambaekwa
One of the greatest things about the African Cup of Nations finals is the platform it provides for new talent to shine and leave a long lasting legacy on the biennial event.
Whilst Namibian footballers will not be faulted for going to the 26th edition of the continental showpiece as unknown entities, they will be at fault should they leave Ghana without making a mark on the competition which gets under way in its capital Accra on Sunday.
These were the words of the country’s football supreme John Muinjo at the official farewell gala dinner held in honour of the players at the Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino last night.
Muinjo urged the players to go on the pitch with the right frame of mind and strive to make a difference in each of the matches and become party spoilers while in the process achieving some measure of success for the entire Namibian nation.
“I must also thank somebody who has proven beyond any doubt to be the number one supporter of our game, a man who amongst his tight schedules still finds the time to lobby on football’s behalf.
“That man is none other than the Patron of the Namibian Football Association Dr Hage Geingob, and I sincerely thank you for your unwavering commitment towards the development of the people’s game, ” said Muinjo.
Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture John Mutorwa emphasized the importance of drawing a distinction between competition and mere participation, notably when the Warriors open their assault in the three-week long tournament in Ghana next week.
“Competition against the very best on the continent is a non-destructive neither a non- violent mini battle regulated by non-negotiable rules and regulations, ” said Mutorwa.
In his keynote address, Dr Geingob said though Namibians have been very critical of the team’s somewhat patchy form in recent friendlies, they should not despair because there are many other countries who are yet to make an appearance at Africa’s biggest showpiece while Namibia will be making her second appearance.
“We should not be too concerned about our losses in the warm-up matches leading to the Nations Cup finals because we played against formidable nations who are all capable of lifting the coveted trophy in Ghana,” said Geingob.
Speaker after speaker paid tribute to the late Brave Warriors coach Benson Bamfuchile, who died after a short illness late in December last year.
The Zambian mentor was instrumental in taking Namibia to her second qualification for the finals of the continental showpiece, and will be sorely missed by the entire Namibian football fraternity.