Katiti Hakuria and Venovineja Tjikundi scored a goal apiece to propel Namibia’s under-20 football team, the Young Warriors, to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Swaziland at Sam Nujoma Stadium on Friday.
The result sees Namibia through to the 2nd round 4-2 on aggregate in the 2017 CAF Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers after the first leg ended in a 2-all stalemate in Swaziland a fortnight ago.
Playing in front of a vociferous home crowd, the Namibian youngsters were expected to take charge of the encounter, following their impressive showing in the away leg – and the hosts certainly lived up to the challenge.
Enterprising playmakers Venovineja Tjikundi, captain fantastic Pandeni Kandjabanga, and the wing pair of Hiha Katjivena and George Hummel played with purpose of intent, linking up perfectly well with the lethal striker Bonni Paulino Junior.
Hakuria opened the scoreboard in 25th minute after his well-taken freekick from 30 metres out flew past a cluster of defenders in the box before landing in the back of the net, largely thanks to a dummy by Baloyi Tsandib.
In the second half coach Gerhard Gunter’s brigade kept the much-improved Swazis out, with the quartet of Giovani Nauseb, Kenedy Eib, Johannes Kwedhi and Tsandib steadfast at the back – thwarting everything thrown at them, notably the visitors’ troublesome target man Justice Figareido.
But it was not long before the slippery left-footed ‘Keshi’ Tjikundi registered his name on the scoresheet – six minutes after the changeover. The youthful striker unleashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net past the stranded Swazi’s shotstopper Mlamuli Lukhele, after some brilliant work by the ever present Katjivena on the left.
As the match wore on, Gunter effected a few changes that saw Antony Kham coming on for Tjikundi, with Alberto Klukowski replacing the hard-running Hummel, while McCartney Nawaseb entered the field with Paulino Junior giving way as the hosts cruised into a comfortable triumph.
In the next round Namibia will confront eternal rivals South Africa in May/ June.
Coach Gunter said he was satisfied with the way his boys played. “We have a very good group of young footballers that showed great tactical discipline today, a factor that was very important for us going forward.
“Swaziland was always going to be a threat at one-nil, but our boys remained calm, executing our game plan quite well. It was a far better performance than the first leg, because we did not concede and will now have to prepare for South Africa and see what happens.”