Keep your hands off my players – Mannetti… stop taking Namibian footballers for granted

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Windhoek

Newly crowned COSAFA Senior Challenge Championship winning coach Ricardo Mannetti has expressed serious concern over the sudden interest by PSL clubs in Brave Warriors players following Namibia’s exploits in the just ended regional competition.

News from South Africa is that PSL Soweto giants Orlando Pirates are chasing the signature of Warriors “man of the moment” Deon Hotto-Kavendjii, while the likes of Wangu-Batista Gomes, Petrus Shitembi, Benson Shilongo, Dudes Mwedihanga, Peter Shalulile and Denzil Hoaseb are reportedly on the wanted list of several PSL teams as well.

And while Mannetti has resigned himself to losing the core of his locally based players to South African teams – the former Santos midfielder is worried about the habitual practice of South African clubs signing Namibian players just to use them as fringe players.

“If they (PSL clubs) cannot guarantee them regular starting berths, what is the use of letting my players go to South Africa whereas they might just as well remain put and develop locally where they are at least assured more game time.”

Mannetti strongly feels that such practice will have the potential of gravely weakening his team since he has adopted a strict policy not to select ineffective players, irrespective of their past reputations.

Local football experts are in unison with Mannetti’s sentiments, also airing their concern over the possible imminent departure of Hotto-Kavendjii to Pirates with big-spending Mamelodi Sundowns also sounded as possible suitors.

“The boy should stay at Golden Arrows and develop because he is still a rough diamond that needs to be polished before he can take the next step,” says well-known local football analyst Sebastian Kamungu.
“Joining Pirates at this juncture would be like taking a giant leap in stark darkness – there is no doubt Hotto has great potential but the boy is a work in progress and should not be thrown into the lion’s den.

“Pirates are a massive club and Hotto must develop big match temperament if he is to succeed at such a big team – he must be carefully nurtured in a non-volatile environment to fully develop into a world class footballer,” echoes a local football coach who asked for his identity to be withheld.

Several talent scouts and coaches from top South African clubs watched Namibia demolish Mozambique in the final of the COSAFA Cup on Saturday with former dribbling wizard Jomo Sono a keen spectator.

The Troublemaker enjoys close ties with Namibia and was team-mate of the late Doc Hardley during their heyday at Orlando Pirates (SA) in the early 70’s, where the pair used to torment defenders at will, scoring goals as if the art of rattling the net was going out of fashion.

Coastal giants Eleven Arrows have sent a congratulatory message through New Era Sport to the Brave Warriors and the entire technical team for their historic victory in the COSAFA Cup – with special reference to the club’s protégés Virgil Vries, Chris Katjiukua and Ronnie Kanalelo.

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