Windhoek-Brave Warriors head coach Ricardo Mannetti is fully aware of the potential threat his charges face from Lesotho, their opponents in the quarterfinal of this year’s COSAFA Cup, when the annual regional football showpiece gets underway in Rustenburg, South Africa on June 25.
Namibia won the cup in 2015 and are seeded to start their campaign in the quarterfinals stage of the tourney. Their opening match against regional minnows Lesotho will offer an opportunity for Mannetti’s rusty Warriors to reach the semifinals.
Despite ongoing wrangles in domestic football that have put the start of the country’s flagship tournament on hold, the former Santos holding midfielder is adamant about reaching the semifinals and redeeming some lost pride, following the Warriors’ lukewarm showing that saw the hosts exit the tourney in the opening round on home soil last year.
“I know Lesotho very well. They play positive football with a lot of energy, but we must control those qualities, which I personally think we are capable of achieving,” said Mannetti, adding that the ultimate aim is to lift the trophy for the second time in three years. “In order for the team to achieve our objective, the match against Lesotho is a definite must-win; no two ways about it. We will take it one match at a time. That is what it’s really about, because you can’t play the next game before the one in front of you.”
The Warriors gaffer said the team’s preparations will determine how they perform against Lesotho and the tournament at large. “It’s not SO much about who we have been drawn against, but our preparations and more importantly, intensity. We have faith in our strengths, but we must perfect mental state and approach playing the way we are capable”, he concluded.
In quarterfinal three, reigning champions and hosts Bafana Bafana welcome the winner from Group A, comprised of Tanzania, Malawi, Angola and Mauritius. Tanzania replaced Comoros Island, who withdrew from the tournament. Swaziland will square off against Group B winners, made up of Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.