WHEN the Brave Warriors qualified for the 26th edition of the Africa Nations Cup finals in Ghana last year, there was a general belief that Namibian football is finally heading in the right direction.
The country had qualified for the continental showpiece for the second time after a decade of drought and was going to show the entire world that we are no longer football minnows.
Confidence was high and the aim was at least to go through to the second round of the biennial tournament. Our next stop after Ghana was going to be Angola for the next edition of the continental showpiece in 2010 and we considered ourselves as the dark horses to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.
Six months down the line, that optimism has virtually evaporated. Although it is still mathematically possible to qualify for the 2010 African Nations Cup finals in Angola, it will need a Herculean act to achieve that dream. We need to win our two remaining games and hope that other results go in our favour.
It is an open secret that there is something fundamentally wrong with our football. What makes the scenario worse is that those in the know have been unable to diagnose the core of the problem.
While some think it is poor administration and lack of talent, others attribute the current state of Namibian football to insufficient funding and the virtually non-existing youth development structures.
Instability within the technical staff of the Brave Warriors is definitely a contributing factor. The Brave Warriors had three coaches in the last eight months.
To be fair, a combination of these factors must have largely contributed to the situation and one might stand accused of being unreasonable for failing to understand why the Brave Warriors are doing so poorly.
Our competitors in the region face the same problems but they seem to be managing them well and are getting the desired results on the football pitch.
Botswana, Swaziland, and Malawi who were once the whipping boys of African football are now doing well despite facing the same challenges. It is up to us to find solutions to our problems and start delivering on the pitch.
The new-look Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) Senior Challenge Cup tournament kicks off in South Africa this coming weekend and offers a perfect platform to redeem our lost pride and rekindle the memories of the all conquering Brave Warriors squad of the late eighties.
Our low ranking on the somewhat controversial FIFA rankings dictates that we first have to negotiate our way past the likes of Malawi, Lesotho and rookies Comoros Island in the preliminaries before challenging for top honours in the annual regional tournament.
The other group consists of Swaziland, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles. The winners from each group will join hosts South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the quarterfinals of the competition.
Namibia started off well during the infant stages of this particular tournament and reached three consecutive finals only to stumble at the final hurdle. We certainly made everybody sit and eat humble pie with our commitment and direct football that had our opponents in all sorts of trouble.
Who would ever forget our back-to-back victories over the then formidable “Bafana Bafana” outfit at a packed-to-rafters Independence Stadium.
It’s never over until the fat lady sings, and that fat lady in none other than little known Belgian coach, one Tom Saintfiet. Let us collectively rally behind the coach and the players in their hour of need.
Good luck Warriors!