By Carlos Kambaekwa
The expression on Bobby Samaria’s face earlier this week revealed how much he really wants to progress to the next round of the African Youth Championship at the expense of Botswana, when his young brigade confronts the Young Zebras in the first leg of the continental qualifiers, at the Khomasdal stadium in the capital tonight (19h00).
The National Under-20 football team has been involved in an intensive training camp for two solid weeks and though Samaria is upbeat about the team’s prospects – the former Black Africa midfield dynamo is not taking any chances.
“We are fully aware of the possible danger that Botswana can pose against us and will go flat out to kill off the contest by taking an insurmountable lead before the second leg in Gaborone in a fortnight’s time.
“Botswana are the current Zone Six champions and cannot be taken lightly, thus we are very cautious of conceding goals that might cost us dearly in the 2nd leg, but that does not mean we will adopt a defensive game. We still have a score to settle with them after they thoroughly beat us in the semifinals of the Zone-Six Tournament in our own backyard last year.”
The youngsters wrapped up their training schedule with a friendly match against Orlando Pirates’ senior team earlier this week and put up a gallant performance – restricting the Buccaneers to a 2-all stalemate.
In an earlier preparation match, “the Bobby Samaria Babes” were just too good for Black Africa second strings in a one-sided match that ended with the youngsters winning by 4 goals to 1.
“I’m very happy with the fitness level of the players but the lack of technical awareness amongst the current crop of Namibian footballers remains a major headache at all levels.
“Our players are in the habit of losing ball possession at the slightest provocation – players need to embrace the ball for the simple reason that if you are to win matches one must have the ball at your disposal.”
Only five players were retained from the successful team that reached the semifinals of the annual Cosafa Regional Tournament in Nelspruit, South Africa last year.
Entrance is free for tonight’s match and the country’s football authorities have urged football fanatics to come out in large numbers and rally behind the “Young Warriors”.
The finals of the African Youth Championship will be played in Rwanda next year.