By Carlos Kambaekwa
African Stars’ normally cool as cucumber defender Dennis Ngueza and SKW inspirational captain Marco van Wyk have both been finally rewarded with a call-up to the provisional 26-member squad ahead of Namibia’s international friendly against Malawi at Windhoek’s Independence stadium – a week of today.
The squad includes 10 uncapped players while the likes of Ramblers’ Nelson “Dicky” Akwenye, Eleven Arrows defender Chris Katjiukua, Jerome Louis of Black Africa, Civics’ mercurial midfielder Tuyeni Tugela and African Stars stalwart defender Andrew “the Rock” Tjahikika have all been recalled after sometime in the wilderness.
Orlando Pirates and National Under-20 livewire striker Eusebio Fredericks needed no second invitation after putting up some sterling performances at both country and club level in recent weeks.
With the bulk of strikers firing blanks at national level, the burly youngster might just prove to be the missing link and could form a dangerous combination with SKW’s skillful playmaker Marco van Wyk.
The provisional squad features relatively unknown midfielder Erastus Mpasi from Rundu Chiefs – the only footballer chosen from the country’s second tier league.
Ramblers captain Michael “Dolam Tower” Pienaar is amongst seven survivors from the Brave Warriors squad that did duty at the 26th edition of the African Cup of Nations in Ghana earlier this year.
Surprisingly, there is no place for African Stars’ in-form midfielder Jasmin “Ninja” Karongee and Civics’ goal poacher Floris Diergaardt, despite their putting in some excellent showing for their respective clubs in recent weeks.
The 26-member training squad will be trimmed down to a more manageable 22 after the arrival of coach Arie Schans who is expected in the country by next week – a few days before Namibia take on Malawi in an international friendly next Wednesday.
The match will serve as preparation for Namibia’s preliminary against Zimbabwe in the first edition of the Confederation of African Football African Nations Championships in Cote d’Ivoire next year.
The Warriors have been pitted against Zimbabwe in a two-legged preliminary in the first of five matches in the heavily laden Southern Zone, also featuring Angola, Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia.
The winner between Namibia and Zimbabwe will play the triumphant nation out of the South Africa/Mauritius encounter for a place in the final.
The Southern Zone has been allocated two berths in the finals and Namibia’s assault in the continental showpiece gets under way in the first week of May with the 2nd leg to be played a fortnight later.
Only local-based players are eligible to participate in the tournament and even Namibian footballers plying their trade in other African leagues would be ineligible for selection.
The squad reads as follows:
Marco van Wyk
Pic: arie schans