By Carlos Kambaekwa
Namibia 1 – Guinea 2
WINDHOEK – It’s back to the drawing board for coach Arie Schans and his misfiring Brave Warriors following the team’s lackluster performance against Guinea’s Syli Nationale, in a FIFA 2010 World Cup preliminary that also doubled up as CAF 2010 African Nations Cup qualifiers at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium on Saturday.
The out of sorts Warriors dismally failed to apply the basics when it mattered the most, notably in the final quarter of the field where the strikers appeared to forget their shooting boots at home.
The hosts started off well with midfielder Quinton “Magic” Jacobs combining well with Jamu Ngatjizeko down the left, but the latter’s final deliveries lacked precision.
Guinea’s Ismael Bangoura tested Esau “Pitso” Tjiuoro in the Warriors goal with a ferocious long range left footer but the stand-in keeper was equal to the task. The visitors came within a whisker of taking the lead when Warriors’ crafter Oliver Risser fouled Ibrahima Diallo on the edge of the penalty box.
Guinea’s inspirational captain Pascal Feindouno stepped up to take the free kick but the usually dead ball specialist blasted the ball against the wall from striking range.
At the other end, Wilko Risser ran his lungs out chasing each and every lose ball but the gangling striker was badly let down by his poor first touch.
Both sets of players huffed and puffed as the first half wore on and it was the visitors who settled first – forcing the Namibians to commit too many unnecessary fouls in dangerous areas but wayward shooting kept the score line intact.
Costa Khaiseb had a glorious chance to give the hosts the lead when he latched onto a long ball that evaded a hesitant Guinea rearguard but the diminutive striker dillydallied with the net begging and allowed the defence to regroup.
The visitors packed their defence and resorted to counter-attacks with long range shots that saw Diallo trying his luck with an ambitious powerful shot from 40 meters out but the ball was easily gathered by Tjiuoro, who deputized for the injured Warriors’ first choice net minder Athiel Mbaha. The giant goalkeeper watched the match from the stands after he was grounded by a groin injury.
The visitors’ gigantic centre back and former Glascow Celtic defender Dian Bobo Balde became the first player to have his name taken down by the referee, after a deliberate handball, and from the resultant free kick, Wilko Risser, directed his shot harmlessly against the wall.
The home team played in departments with very little cohesion between the strikers and the midfield – a situation that forced the striking force time and again to play backwards as there were little numbers in the box if any, whenever an attack was launched.
Guinea took the lead very much against run of play when Bangoura took full advantage of the backtracking Namibian rearguard and slotted the ball home past a hapless Tjiuoro in the 20th minute. The setback ignited the hosts who started playing with more purpose but over-hastiness proved to be their biggest enemy.
Makeshift overlapping right back Ivan Namaseb put in some telling crosses into the box but there was no one to pick up the pieces.
Rudolph Bester and Khaiseb exchanged excellent passes before the AK FC striker released Bester with a defence-splitting pass. Bester waltzed past his marker and worked his way into the small box but the skillful midfielder elected to go for glory from a very tight angle and let fly with a diagonal shot when an easy layoff could have done the trick, with a number of his teammates better positioned.
As the match wore on and with halftime approaching, Namaseb clashed with Diallo and both players needed medical attention before they could resume their battle on the field.
The timeout break seemed to be just what the good doctor had ordered as it afforded Schans a rare opportunity to give his misfiring soldiers a thorough tongue lashing. The players got the message and responded in the most suitable fashion through Bester who scored a beauty after he was teed off by Khaiseb, to send the success-hungry crowd into raptures.
Namibia should have taken the lead when Khaiseb was presented with an inviting chance following a goalmouth melee but the usually cool as a cucumber goal poacher skied the ball from close range.