Impressed with the level of competitiveness so far witnessed in the ongoing Cosafa Cup since kick-off last Saturday in Windhoek, Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti says his charges are well prepared and ready to go the extra mile in making sure they successfully defend their Cosafa trophy.
“I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen so far and I have to say most teams have improved and also boast more youngsters, which is quite good. But as defending champions of the competition we are well aware of what is at stake going into Saturday’s quarterfinal match against Botswana and thus we have to be on top of our game as expectations are high,” says Mannetti, who is expected to announce his final 20-member squad tomorrow.
“So far the atmosphere in the camp is great and the guys are raring to go, which is a very positive sign specially heading into such an important event. Another positive aspect is seeing the local players learn from their seniors and generally blend well as a team.”
With the team consisting mostly of home-based players, Mannetti also called on his local players to step up to the challenge at hand and make their presence felt, saying they have the opportunity to prove themselves and make the nation proud.
“Going into last year’s Cosafa Cup, players such as Wangu Gome and Peter Shalulile were not known but they went ahead and made a name for themselves, with Gome being voted as player of the tournament. So just like their colleagues, the opportunity is there for everyone but it’s just a matter of individuals stepping up to seize the moment,” adds the former Brave Warriors midfield maestro.
Namibia and Botswana both enter the competition in the quarterfinal stage. The Cosafa competition started on Saturday and ends on June 25.
On the issue of goalkeeper Virgil Vries and defender Chris Katjiukua, who both recently went AWOL from the national team camp, Mannetti said the two wayward players had since deposited their humble apologies to the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and equally to their teammates and technical staff for their unruly behaviour.
“I am not sure though if they will be part of the final 20-man team for the Cosafa Cup, as we still have to make a final decision as far as their future with the national team is concerned.”