The wasteful Brave Warriors, missed out on an ideal chance to take a healthy lead going into their decisive second leg clash against Guinea.
Nambia were beaten 1 0 by an understrength Guinean side in the first leg of the 2018 FIFA World Cup second round preminary at the Sam Nujoma stadium, yesterday.
Kitted out in their traditional all-red strip in front of a fairly decent crowd under scorching heat at the astro turf Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura, Windhoek lost 0-1 to Guinea in the African Zone round 2 first leg of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
The visitors were the first to ask questions when Naby Keita tested Max Mbaeva with a long-range drive but the dreadlocked shot stopper was equal to the task.
Soon afterwards, the hosts were awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty box, but Awilo Stephanus’ delivery was easily dealt with by the towering Guinean defenders.
With 15 minutes gone on the clock, Deon Hotto-Kavendjii got to the end of a well worked out through ball and with only the goalkeeper to beat, the speedy Golden Arrows winger elected to cut the ball back from a tight angle, only for the wide-awake Naby Moussa Yattari to thwart the danger.
Shalulile had the ball in the net only for the goal to be rightly ruled offside. The hosts won a succession of corners but could unfortunately not break the towering Guinean defence. Shalulile proved quite a handful for the visitors’ static rearguard and stung the palms of Yattari with a ferocious long-range left footer.
The contest deteriorated into a see-saw affair as the searing heat took its toll on both sets of players – obliging the visitors to adapt a more cautious approach by slowing down the tempo.
Guinea took a surprise lead, very much against the run of play when they made good use of their numerical advantage as Shalulile was off the field receiving treatment. Keita beat Mbaeva hands down with a well-taken strike after the stocky playmaker capitalized on a defensive mix-up on the half hour mark (1-0).
Five minutes before the break, N’ganon Fousseni Bamba was the first player to have his name entered into the referee’s crime sheet for a professional foul. The hosts held the upper hand in terms of attacking options and ball possession but poor decision-making, notably in the final quarter, let the team badly down.
Warriors’ mentor Bucksey Mannetti hauled off the clearly isolated Benson Shilongo – making way for the speedy Ballack Somaeb at the resumption. With seven minutes gone into the second half, Bamba received his marching orders for a second bookable offence, leaving the visitors to soldier on with a man down.
The whole stadium went into raptures when pocket-size midfielder Wangu Gome Batista entered the field replacing defender Dennis Tjetjinda, as the hosts threw more bodies upfront in search of the elusive equalizer.
As the match wore on, the Warriors started to grow in confidence launching several attacks only to be let down by lack of composure with passes going astray. In what could be easily interpreted as the last kick of a dying horse, Mannetti pulled off the wasteful Stephanus – sending on veteran midfielder Heini Isaacks.
Namibia finished the stronger of the two nations but woeful shooting proved to be their Achilles heel as they wasted another chance for an equalizer when substitute Somaeb sent a free kick inches past the upright in the final stages of the match.
At the other end, Mbaeva was a virtual spectator during the entire second half and was barely tested.
Shitembi was by far Namibia’s best performer while Sory Brahima Conte (No. 10) shone for the visitors. And that’s how it ended: Namibia 0 – 1 Guinea. The decisive return leg will be played in Cassablancha, Morocco on Sunday.
Warriors starting lineup: Max “Slimkat” Mbaeva, Dennis “Law” Ngueza-Tjetjinda (Gome), Willem “Dudes” Mwedihanga, Chris Katjiukua, Ananias Junior Gebhardt, Ronald “Stigga” Ketjijere (capt), Awilo “Rakhale” Stephanus (Isaacks), Peter “Pikes” Shalulile, Benson “Styles” Shilongo, (Somaeb) Deon Hotto-Kavendjii, Petrus “Dancing Shoes” Shitembi.