Namibia’s senior football team the Brave Warriors were yesterday held to an embarrassing goalless draw by regional minnows Seychelles in their opening match of the Cosafa Cup at the Maruleng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.
A dominant display by the Namibians could have seen the team play another 90 minutes and still not find the back of the net in a match that was mainly characterized by poor decision-making and wayward shooting.
Warriors’ shot stopper Virgil Vries was a virtual spectator during the entire match and was barely threatened by the Indian Ocean island amateurs.
In fact, such was Namibia’s superiority and dominance that had it been a boxing context the referee would have been obliged to stop the match on a technical knockout (TKO).
Led by inspirational skipper Stigga Ketjijere, the Warriors started asking questions as early as the 5th minute.
Nicky-Boy Musambani missed an absolute sitter via a miscued header and then shot tamely with the net begging.
Fullback Dennis Tjetjinda was the first to have his name entered into the referee’s crime sheet for a dangerous foul – two minutes before the changeover.
Seychelles almost took a surprise lead from the resultant free kick when the big-framed Seychelles forward stung Vries’ palms with a ferocious shot but the much-improved Maritzburg United net guard was equal to the task, tipping the ball away for a corner.
Spearheaded by the resurgent Petrus “Dancing Shoes” Shitembi, who led the islanders’ rearguard on a merry-go-around, the Warriors created dozens of clear-cut goal-scoring chances, only to be badly let down by wayward shooting cousined by poor decision-making in the third quarter.
It was the same old story after the break with the marauding Namibians in total control of proceedings but failing to covert the numerous chances that came their way.
Deon Hotto skied his attempt after latching onto a cleverly executed defence-splitting pass from Ketjijere.
A clearly frustrated Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti had obviously seen enough and hauled off the ineffective Somaeb, sending on veteran striker Sadney Uri-Khob, and subsequently unleashing Denzil Haoseb with Tjetjinda making way for the overlapping fullback.
The move almost yielded immediate dividends as Namibia started to push more bodies upfront but could unfortunately not break that oak door of the Seychelles’ rock-steady defence.
Uri-Khob found himself with acres of space but the stocky winger appeared to have forgotten his shooting boots in his hotel room, wasting a number of inviting chances in succession.
In what could be interpreted as the last kick of the dying horse, a desperate Mannetti withdrew Musambani, replacing him with Tura Magic’s free-scoring striker Itamunua Keimuine.
However, the latter’s immediate contribution was to miss a sitter when presented with an open goalmouth – merely shooting tamely at the goalkeeper
As the match wore on, the Warriors were like men possessed bamboozling their lesser opponents with impunity, launching attack after attack only to find themselves wanting after Seychelles launched one particularly quick, cleverly orchestrated counter-attack, which almost resulted in a shocking goal had it not been for the timely intervention of the wideawake Vries.
The goalless result leaves Namibia with the inevitable task of having to win both their remaining group matches against lowly Mauritius and the tough Zimbabwe.
Namibia confront Mauritius in their next match tomorrow afternoon before rounding off their assignment in the group stages of the regional tourney with a crucial tie against old foes Zimbabwe on Thursday.
Brave Warriors starting line-up: Virgil Vries, Dennis Ngueza-Tjetjinda (Haoseb), Dudes Mwedihanga, Chris Katjiukua, Junior Gebhardt, Stigga Ketjijere, Wangu-Batista Gomes, Petrus Shitembi, Deon Hotto, Ballack Somaeb (Uri-Khob) and Nicky-Boy Musambani (Keimuine).