By Carlos Kambaekwa
The national women senior team the “Brave Gladiators” have made it loud and clear that the show is not over until the fat lady sings.
The team leaves Namibia later today for the Africa Women’s Cup second leg qualifier against Nigeria’s Super Falcons at the National stadium in Abuja, on Saturday.
Namibia goes into the match with a 3-goal deficit after losing the first leg by 3 goals to Nil in an otherwise entertaining match at the Khomasdal stadium in Windhoek – eight days ago.
Despite the 3 goal deficit, the Namibians remain upbeat and believe they can overturn the deficit and have promised to play an open attacking game when they confront the Falcons in their own backyard.
Namibia will be without stocky right back Mangulukeni Hamata, who starts her one match suspension after collecting two yellow cards in Namibia’s previous matches against Botswana and Nigeria respectively, while defender Stephany Hummel and mercurial midfielder Stella Williams are both doubtful starters with an assortment of injuries.
However, the team has been boosted by the return of Namibia’s lanky road queen Helena Iipinge who missed the first leg against Nigeria through Athletics commitments.
The 26-year old Iipinge, a member of the National Defence Force has been included in the 25-member travelling entourage to the West African country with seven officials on board.
Meanwhile, the Namibians have been training hard over the last couple of days and completed their training schedule with a friendly match against the National Under-20 men’s side at the Wanaheda stadium in Katutura on Sunday. The Gladiators were handed a 4-Nil hammering by Bobby Samaria’s young brigade, but the result seemed to have had little impact on the spirit of the ladies.
“The bulk of the players have been involved in league activities with their respective clubs last weekend, and we are just happy that they came out unscathed and showed no signs of rustiness,” said team manager Jacky Gertze.
Gertze bemoaned the lack of natural left footed female footballers in the country – a situation Gertze describes as the team’s Achilles’ heel.
“We need to strike a balance in the side and without natural left footed players it will remain an uphill battle to produce a well balanced team capable of challenging the likes of Nigeria and other emerging football playing nations on the African continent.”
The outspoken Gertze pulled no punches in the aftermath of Namibia’s somewhat lukewarm second half performance against Nigeria in the first leg and attributed the defeat primarily to a lack of concentration amongst a reshuffled rearguard after the forced withdrawal of Hummel through injury.
“After analyzing video footage of the first leg match against the Falcons, nothing is cast in stone and we strongly believe we have what it takes to give the Falcons a decent run for their money in the return leg – come Saturday.”
The Namibians are poised to ring slight positional changes to the side that lost to Nigeria with Leandre Lucas to be slotted in defence in an effort to pluck the holes in the fragile rearguard while Susana Eises, who came on as a second half substitute, will in all probability retain her place in defence.
Meanwhile, Reho Queens defeated Ramblers 2 – 0 in the Women’s League at the Sam Nujoma stadium in Windhoek last weekend, and the National Defence Force Cheetahs proved too hot for Poly Babes – the ladies in uniform dispatched the students by 4 goals to 1 in the second of a double header at the Sam Nujoma stadium on Saturday.
The eagerly-awaited match that was to have taken place between Okahandja Beauties and Ama-Teachers failed to materialize, because of outstanding logistical issues that need to be ironed out first.