Brave Warriors head coach Ricardo Mannetti is biting his nails hoping for the speedy recovery of free-scoring striker Benson Shilongo, ahead of Namibia’s crucial 2017 AFCON Qualifier against Senegal in Windhoek this weekend.
The stylish goal poacher, who plies his trade with leading Botswana outfit Gaborone United, suffered a concussion in his club’s match last weekend and his selection remains in serious doubt.
Meanwhile, striker Pikes Shalulile, who has recently tied up a deal with South African second-tier side Highlands Park delayed his arrival from South Africa, as he was involved in club commitments, but the tall striker was expected to join his teammates late yesterday.
Namibia will welcome the Senegalese at the Sam Nujoma stadium this weekend in their first genuine official home match after winning the highly competitive COSAFA Cup in South Africa earlier this year.
Warriors mentor Bucksy Mannetti is nevertheless upbeat as he revealed that all the players he called up have arrived at camp, with the exception of Shalulile and the injured Shilongo.
“Benson took a knock on the head over the weekend while playing for his club in Botswana which led to concussion. However, the player managed to travel to Windhoek, as we wanted our medical team to assess him. By Wednesday we will be able to make an informed decision on his match fitness,” Mannetti said, before admitting that it would be a big loss should the player be ruled out of contention for selection.
The Namibians are very much aware that nothing less than victory will keep their chances of qualification alive, after narrowly losing their opening Group-K away match to Niger. Victory for the fired up Southern African Regional Champions will put them firmly in the driving seat and on course for a third appearance at the continental showpiece.
Namibia finds itself in a very tough qualifying group alongside West African heavyweights Gambia, Senegal and Niger. Meanwhile, forgotten the Free State Stars utility defender, Dacosta Angula, will make a welcome return to the Warriors setup after the burly centre back was cold-shouldered by national selectors in the last couple of international matches.
The bulk of the squad is mainly composed of players who did duty in the COSAFA Cup, with Black Africa’s overlapping fullback Dynamo Fredericks also included in the 23-member squad. Strikers Sadney Uri-Khob and Ita Keimuine are notable absentees.
Brave Warriors squad: Virgil Vries, Ted Maova, Max ‘Slimkat’ Mbaeva, Chris Katjiukua, Dudes Mwedihanga, Da Costa Angula, Tebs Lombard, Greg Aukumeb, Benyamin Nenkavu, Ballack Somaeb, Denzil Haoseb, Junior Gebhardt, Dynamo Fredericks, Awillo Stephanus, Benson Shilongo, Wangu-Batista Gome, Deon Hotto-Kavendjii, Pikes Shalulile, Stigga Ketjijere, Heini Isaacks, Joslin Kamatuka, Petrus “Shoes” Shitembi and Absalom Iimbondi.