Namibia senior national team assistant coach Ronnie Kanalelo will be leading the U-20 side at the 2013 COSAFA U-20 Youth Championships, slated for Maseru, Lesotho in December. He is optimistic about his side’s chances, but admits they are in a very tough group (Group C), that also includes Zambia, South Africa and Seychelles, but maintained that his team will be up for the challenge.
What do you make of your group at the 2013 COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championship?
It’s a very tough group, you could go far as calling it the Group of Death. Zambia are the holders and will be favourites once again, they have performed consistently well at this level over the years. South Africa also carries the similar success as Zambia and will be a threat to us, as we have not competed at this competition for a while, and we will see what Seychelles brings. It will be very tough.
Are you happy with the players you have available for selection?
These are obviously young players, the talent is there but talent alone does not win you games. We are trying to teach the boys to play a more aggressive game, Namibian players are traditionally small in stature and when you play teams like Zambia and South Africa you have to be a little bit aggressive and physical in how you approach the game. But we had a two-week camp in Ghana in June that went well; playing against West African players was a great preparation for us because their game is all about being physical. We know our level, we are optimistic about our level, and with this extra aggression we can do well. We saw it in Ghana how we were able to frustrate teams.
What are your aims at this tournament?
The main objective for me, as the assistant of senior national team, is to try and get more players to graduate from the junior teams to the highest level. This tournament will be important in helping to identify those that may be ready. We already have a couple of 17- and 18-year-olds that we have identified to train with the senior team and this should serve as motivation to the players. If they do well here then the next level is the senior COSAFA Cup.
Are you pleased with the standard of Under-20 football in Namibia?
We need to be doing more. Everything is organised by the FA and there is a lot of good work being done, but it is not enough. We need more youth teams at club level and more youth competitions to help develop this talent.
Are there any players in particular that you are excited about seeing play?
There are a few, but I would say one to watch is Marius Kotze, he has huge potential. He should be at a PSL club by now, but I am sure it won’t be long. My one area of concern is the attack, but that is a general Namibian problem at all levels. We need to do a bit of work on our play in the final third.
What do you think of Lesotho as host nation for this tournament?
I think it should be a good tournament; it is a good place to play. And the Lesotho junior sides have been doing well in recent years, upsetting a few of the big names, so they should get good support. Playing at home will be a real bonus for them.