In all fairness to my conscience, I honestly don’t think the Brave Warriors can be faulted for not reaching the quarter-finals of the biennial 26th edition of the ongoing MTN Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana after the young and relatively inexperienced Warriors were bundled out of the competition at the first hurdle.
What really touched the heart is the spirited determination which the boys showed during the last two group matches against hosts Ghana and Guinea respectively.
Had Lady Luck not turned her cheek on us, we could have won both matches and progressed to the knock-out stages but guts alone don’t win you matches because football is all about goal scoring – something that is really lacking in the Namibian setup.
It is pointless to always give yourself a pat on the back and take solace from the fact that as long as we lose by narrow margins everything is okay, that’s pure nonsense! We need to develop a winning culture, period.
Whilst there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, Namibian football surely needs to take stock and do some measurements on the basis of our lukewarm performance and position in the FIFA rankings.
For me, no amount of witties can rationalise the decision of playing defensively while the team is trailing by half a dozen of goals – in our opening match against Morocco, the technical staff failed dismally to modify their tactics with basically all the goals against us coming in similar fashion.
In the second match against Ghana, I could not help but shed a tear or two for the gutsy performance dished out by our boys as they matched the Ghanaian professionals boot for boot in front of their own crowd. The Warriors could have easily won that match had the technical staff not resorted to playing defensive football in order to keep the margin low.
It’s also mind-boggling as to why the coach persisted with players who were completely off form while he had more than enough resources on the bench to rely on – why then select players whom you don’t trust that they are capable of doing the job when called upon to do so?
The match against Guinea was destined for failure because what really transpired prior to kick-off was something unprintable in any professional setup.
Sydney Plaatjies was paraded on the team sheet as one of the players in the starting line-up but when the team took the field, Lazarus Kaimbi trotted onto the field in place of Plaatjies.
Snippets coming from the Warriors’ camp was that the player in question had forgotten his match jersey at the team’s hotel which was about one hour’s drive from the Sekondi sports stadium.
That aside, when playing at this level the team is required to have a standby kit in case of players sustaining injuries that might cause their playing gear to be soaked with blood or torn to pieces.
The officials claimed there was only one kit but the players say this is not true, which means somebody blundered BIG TIME in this regard and the usual lies were fed to the media for the umpteenth time.
Players who spoke on condition of anonymity claim the sometimes volatile Jomo Cosmos defender is being victimised for his outspokenness after the very same player missed a crucial training session while dozing peacefully in his hotel room in Accra.
Now the question that invites answers is: would the technical staff have left behind key players like Michael Pienaar or Collin Benjamin for that matter had they found themselves in such a situation?
Some players claim the team bus left the hotel premises five minutes ahead of schedule while team officials say they were unaware that the player in question was not on the bus.
Plaatjies was fined his match fee which amounts to N$12 500 for leaving behind his playing gear at the hotel – much to the amazement of some sympathetic team mates who believe the buck should have passed Plaatjies and rather stop at the team’s bungling management.
Some frustrated professional players are up in arms and threatened to quit the national team if their demands for starting berths are not considered favourably. The disgruntled players claimed to be overlooked at the expense of team mates who do not command regular places at their respective teams while some players are not playing any competitive football at all.
The Story that Never Was
In truth to myself and my maker, I would be failing myself and my personal integrity if I don’t touch on this little nasty incident that occurred during my two-week stint in Accra.
A high-ranking football official deemed it fit to cook up a story that yours truly was declared a persona non grata in Ghana and was prevented from executing his functions because his accreditation had ostensibly been withdrawn for some strange reasons.
What really puzzled and disturbed my mind is why did this high-ranking football official elect to call his henchmen in Namibia to inform them about my “ordeal” without checking the real facts while I was residing next door with all my fellow pen-pushers from my native country.
If the intention was to create disaffection for me as an individual, well I’m afraid that did work out pretty well as it only demonstrated his undying desire to mastermind my downfall.
Without wanting to get into a war of words, let me just point out that when I reported about the bungling of national colours being given to non-nationals last year, I thought I was just doing what is required from media practitioners and did not for one moment think I was trampling on people’s sensitive toes.
I rest my case.