Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti’s four-week intensive training camp for the national senior team players officially came to an end yesterday and the mentor expressed mixed feelings about the players’ fitness levels and their overall response to the programme.
Due to the inactivity of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) for about a year now, coupled with endless boardroom politics that have further overshadowed the prospects of domestic football starting anytime soon, early last month Mannetti took it upon himself to organise a four-legged intensive training programme aimed at jumpstarting the fitness levels of national team players.
The programme also aims to hasten Namibia’s preparation 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. When the training camp started in April, mainly with home-based footballers, Mannetti had to deal with an influx of unfit players as about 99 percent of them had not kicked a ball for months.
But as of yesterday, the senior national team gaffer had a different story to tell as he expressed satisfaction with the improved fitness levels and overall commitment of most of the players but admitted that there is still a bit of polishing that needs to be done on a few players.
Mannetti, who is expected to announce a 24-member squad in due course, remains optimistic that with some more hard work and dedication the Brave Warriors will be ready to compete in the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) and Championship of African Nations (CHAN) qualifiers as well as the Cosafa Cup.
After the expected announcement of the 24-member squad, the selected players will engage in various friendly matches with local teams and undergo further intensive training before the squad is again trimmed down to one final squad of 18 players, which will include foreign-based players.
The aim is to have the squad ready for the 2019 Afcon qualifier against Guinea Bissau in June before the team heads to South Africa for the Cosafa Cup from June 25. Later, Mannetti will be expected to announce another group of home-based players that will face Zimbabwe for the CHAN qualifiers in July. Namibia faces Zambia, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau in Group K of the qualifiers for Afcon 2019.