Windhoek-Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti yesterday admitted that he faces a daunting task to reassemble the national senior football team nearly from scratch, after almost a year without organised football in Namibia.
Due to the inactivity of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) for almost a year now, as it stands 99 percent of Namibia’s home-based footballers are totally unfit and not ready to represent the country at international level.
As a result, Mannetti took it upon himself to organise an intensive training programme for national team players, as he prepares the Brave Warriors for a jam-packed football calendar, which starts in June with the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers, the COSAFA Cup and then the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) qualifiers.
With limited time at his disposal, the Brave Warriors coach yesterday announced a 24-member squad that will be the first group of players to kickstart the intensive training programme on April 4. The programme will involve four groups, which will later be trimmed down to one final squad, from which players to represent Namibia in the AFCON and CHAN qualifiers will be selected.
Mannetti said it was important to start preparations for international games earlier as he embarks on his mandate of reaching the Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2019. The
AFCON, CHAN and COSAFA Cup are all scheduled to take place between June and July.
“We have the objective of reaching the finals in 2019 and we need to prepare well for that. Playing Guinea Bissau won’t be easy in June, because they were just at the AFCON and I saw them play South Africa last week and they have active players at the moment.
“But they are beatable and we really need to work very hard in order for us to make this dream (qualifying for AFCON 2019) a reality, hence we’re starting now with preparations,” Mannetti said, noting that the emphasis will not be on fitness, but on mentality and character. The first training squad will start on Tuesday next week to Thursday.
“We need players with character and the right mentality for international football. I’ve invited these players based on my experience with them and also those that have shown promise, and we need to see if they can make it. All players in these groups are unfit of course. There hasn’t been [premier league] football for almost a year now and we need to consider that.”
In May, Mannetti will announce another squad to prepare for the 2019 AFCON qualifier against Guinea Bissau in June before the team heads to South Africa for the COSAFA Cup from 25 June. Home-based players will then face Zimbabwe for the CHAN qualifiers in July.
Namibia will face Zambia, Mozambique and Bissau in Group K of the qualifiers for AFCON 2019.
“Before that, the league would have hopefully kicked off and still the scouting continues until we get to Cosafa, so we have a lot of hard work ahead if we want to have success this year,” Mannetti said, adding that with proper preparation he believes his side can defeat Zimbabwe and progress to the third and final group of qualifiers for Kenya CHAN 2018.
The 24-member squad is as follows: Lodyt Kazapua (African Stars) David Peterson (Tigers), Charles Uirab (Orlando Pirates), Edward Maova (Civics FC), Romario Ndjavera and Ferdinand Karongee (Tigers), Tiberius Lombard and Charles Hambira (both Tura Magic), Larry Horaeb (Black Africa), Da Costa Angula (unattached), Riaan !Hanamub (Orlando Pirates), Edmund Kambanda (UNAM FC), Ronald Ketjijere and Katiti Hakuria (both African Stars), Benyamin Nenkavu (Tigers), Johannes Shiwedha (Nampol), Oswaldo Xamseb (Tura Magic), Dynamo Fredericks (Black Africa), Pandeni Kandjabanga (Golden Bigs), Donald Geiseb (Civics), Itamunua Keimuine (Tura Magic), Mapenzi Muwanei (Tigers), Manuel Fransico and Muraperi Joseph ( both United Stars).