By Carlos Kambaekwa
The Zimbabwean football team arrived in Namibia yesterday for their crucial 2nd African Nations Championships qualifier against their Namibian counterparts at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium tomorrow.
The two nations are level after the first leg ended goalless in Harare a fortnight ago, and the Zimbabweans will face a mammoth task trying to overturn that result.
Zimbabwe’s Brazilian coach Jose Claudinei Georgini, better known as Vadinhos in his native country, is cagey about his team’s chances and says the Namibians are very dangerous opponents and need to be treated with great caution.
“We are confident, but I must confess that it will be a tough match because Namibia is a very, very good team and one must also not lose sight of the fact that the bulk of their playing personnel are home based.”
Georgini said Namibia gave a good account of themselves during the 26th edition of the African Nations Cup finals in Ghana earlier this year, but was quick to point out that his charges will not bow out without a fight.
“In terms of experience, Namibia will have a slight edge, but we also have players who are maturing with every game and the bulk of the players in our squad were in the victorious Dynamos team that bundled continental champions Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia out of this year’s African Club Champions League.”
The Zimbabweans boast seven players from Dynamos in their squad with Highlanders supplying four while Caps United have two with the rest coming from several clubs in the strong Zimbabwean elite league.
The Brave Warriors’ Team Manager Tim “Teenage” Isaacs, is optimistic and believes home ground advantage could swing the result in Namibia’s favour.
“We know it’s not going to be another stroll in the park, but the fact that we did not concede a goal away from home is a plus point. This is a new team, but the boys acquitted themselves well under trying circumstances in the first leg away in Harare, especially in the second half where they created a good number of goal scoring chances which they could not convert because of poor finishing.”
Doubts hang over the availability of strikers Pineas “Heel Extension” Jacobs and Edward “the Bull” Damaseb who are both on the treatment table with an assortment of injuries.
Namibia’s next match is against the Harambee Stars of Kenya in the 2010 World Cup and Nations cup qualifiers within a fortnight, and some of the fringe players will be using tomorrow’s match as a platform to impress the coaching staff ahead of that clash.
The winner between Namibia and Zimbabwe will confront South Africa in the final qualifying berth following the withdrawal of Mauritius. The Islanders were pitted against South Africa’s “Bafana Bafana” in the opening round.