Embattled Brave Warriors head coach Bucksy Mannetti has stuck to his guns with his selective policy as he once again placed his faith in the trusted and tested underperforming soldiers.
Mannetti announced a 20-member squad as Namibia travels to Dakar, Senegal to confront hosts Senegal for a match of convenience in the 2017 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group K qualifiers, on the 3rd of next month.
Already out of contention for a place in next year’s AFCON finals, the Warriors are currently occupying 3rd place with six points ahead of the final group game.
However, a defiant Mannetti says the team started training yesterday at the Namibia Football Association (NFA) Technical Centre in the capital, preparing for the clash of titans in Dakar, and his charges have a point to prove.
“I’m a strong believer in defying the odds and this particular match gives us a chance to rewrite history and halt Senegal’s dominance over our team. We now have a chance to out go there and make sure we do better than the last time we lost 2-0 at home against the same opponents,” said Mannetti.
The former Santos defensive midfielder cited the exploits of surprise English Premier League champions Leicester City and the COSAFA U/17 champions the Baby Warriors as examples to follow.
Mannetti has recalled veteran centre back Chris Katjiukua and goalkeeper Virgil Vries after the pair were grounded for ill-discipline for breaking the team’s curfew ahead of the COSAFA Cup in June this year.
Also back in the fold are former Black Africa burly centre back Dacosta Angula and Petrus “Dancing Shoes” Shitembi, after the pair missed the COSAFA Cup through an assortment of injuries.
“Chris and Virgil have showed their remorse and are now back in the squad but we will not tolerate any ill-discipline in this team,” Mannetti cautioned the pair.
Shitembi, who was recently offloaded by his South African club Amazulu, picked up an injury ahead of the 2016 COSAFA Senior Cup, while Angula featured in the quarterfinal defeat against eventual runner-up Botswana before he was ruled out of the remainder of the competition through injury.
Quizzed about the conspicuous omission of troubled Black Africa playmaker Awillo Stephanus, an evasive Mannetti said the player was left out for football reasons only, without elaborating further.
Pressed as to whether the player’s grounding has anything to do with his outbursts castigating the Warriors hierarchy for alleged unfair treatment over unpaid bonuses, Mannetti tried to pour cold water on the issue.
Meanwhile, Warriors long-serving towering defender Dudes Mwedihanga is yet to commit himself after the club-less beanpole centre back, who otherwise enjoyed a stellar season with his relegated South African club AMATUKS, requested to be excused from selection ahead of the COSAFA Cup, citing fatigue.
Despite the setback, Mannetti remains unfazed and is adamant he believes in what he has at his disposal.
Utility defender Denzil Haoseb is another notable absentee through suspension.
The 20-member Brave Warriors squad reads as follows: Slimkat Mbaeva (Golden Arrows), Virgil Vries (Maritzburg United), Dacosta Angula (unattached), Chris Katjiukua (Golden Arrows), Mashaba Karongee (Tigers), Tebs Lombard (Tura Magic), Edmund Kambanda (UNAM), Oswaldo Xamseb (Tura Magic), Deon Hotto (Bloemfontein Celtic), Ballack Somaeb (unattached), Petrus Shitembi (unattached), Abes Iimbondi (Tigers), Larry Horaeb (Black Africa), Junior Gebhardt (Jomo Cosmos), Wangu Batista Gome (Bidvest Wits University), Benson Shilongo (Platinum Stars), Dynamo Fredericks (BA), Stigga Ketjijere (A Stars), Ita Keimuine (Tura Magic) and Pikes Shalulile (Highlands Parks).