By Confidence Musariri
New national soccer team coach Tom Saintfiet was introduced to Namibia at Soccer House yesterday morning where he already got down to business, calling 26 players into camp for the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup.
Already nicknamed The Saint, by some sections of the media, an elated Saintfiet presented an almost new-look Brave Warriors side upon his unveiling. He said he was looking forward to the Cosafa games although his immediate ambition is to lead the Brave Warriors to better results in the remaining Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Kenya and Zimbabwe later this year.
“I have an ambition to stay here, and I already have a good feeling about things around me,” he said before retreating to the Khomasdal Stadium where the team is training.
The Brave Warriors will leave for South Africa on Thursday where they are second favourites to Malawi in Group B alongside Lesotho and The Comoros.
Malawi’s recent surge of form, which started when they beat Namibia 1-3 in a Windhoek friendly, then Egypt (2-1) and Djibouti (8-0) are the bookmakers’ choice.
But a confident Saintfiet promised to turn the team’s fortunes around, giving “an opportunity to every player with a Namibian passport,” unlike his predecessors.
Self-exiled Namibian international George Hummel has been recalled by Saintfiet, after the South African-based defender quit international football two years ago, citing irreconcilable differences with the technical team and the NFA during the Ben Bamfuchile era.
Also called for the Cosafa games are forgotten players such as goalie Abisai Shiningayamwe alias Zico Paulus, defenders Mali Ngarizemo and Dennis Ngueza, midfielders Niinja Karongee, Rudi Louw, Paulus Shipanga, Freedom Puriza, strikers Muna Katupose and Jerome Louise, all ditched by former coach Arie Schans.
The squad will however be trimmed to 20, although Saintfiet says the doors will still be open especially for the World Cup and Nations Cup games. Civics’ Tugela Tuyeni is a notable absentee.
There will be six successive days of double-header matches at this year’s Cosafa tournament and if Namibia tops its Group A, it will play South Africa in the quarter-finals on July 26.
– Brave Warriors squad:
Goalkeepers: Athiel Mbaha; Abisai Shiningayamwe; Esau Tjiuoro; Defenders: Michael Pienaar; George Hummel; Steven Goagab; Ivan Namaseb; Gotlieb Nakuta; Mali Ngarizemo; Jeremia Baisako; Dennis Ngueza; Midfielders: Brian Brendell; Niinja Karongee; Jamu Ngatjizeko; Quinton Jacobs; Victor Helu; Oliver Risser; Rudi Louw; Freedom Puriza; Paulus Shipanga; Forwards: Edward Damaseb; Muna Katupose; Pineas Jacob; Costa Khaiseb; Lazarus Kaimbi and Jerome Louise.