Windhoek-Following Namibia’s somewhat woolly campaign at the just-ended Cosafa Castle Cup in South Africa, which saw the Brave Warriors losing 1-0 in the competition’s Plate final against Bafana Bafana, national team mentor Ricardo Mannetti has urged Namibians to waive their personal views and be realistic about the national team’s prospects.
As far as the team’s display at the recent Cosafa Cup is concerned, Mannetti feels strongly that the Brave Warriors’ performance warrants encouragement and support from all Namibians, especially considering the fact that they had to perform with players who were inactive for more than 15 months due to the dormancy of the domestic premier league.
At this year’s Cosafa Cup, when compared to other countries that also participated, Namibia was the only country with an inactive football league for more than a year and the “spillover effects” of a quiescent domestic league was quite evident in the performance and fitness levels of the players.
“We did not have a league for more than 15 months and that means players were not active for that entire period, so I tried blending some of our local guys into the Cosafa team, players like Riaan Hanamub and Benjamin Nenkavu and others, with the hope of giving them game time.
“But at the end of the day, you can’t do much with players that have been inactive for that long. That’s why I’m saying, as Namibians we should be realistic with ourselves, accept and understand that the league situation we are currently facing won’t make it any easier for us. In such a time, Namibians should support the team, especially the young players in the squad,” said the 2015 Cosafa Cup winning gaffer.
With regard to Sunday’s 2018 Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifier against Zimbabwe, Mannetti announced an 18-men squad to face the Zimbabwean Warriors at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura, Windhoek.
The squad includes free agents Hendrick Somaeb, Roger Katjiteo and Petrus Shitembi, who formerly played in the South African and Botswana premierships before their release. Mannetti strongly believes they have what it takes to make a difference on Sunday.
“These players boost the team immensely and complement the others, as well. We’re facing a very tough Zimbabwe team that have active players and players that play Champions League football and for us it means our players need to put in the extra effort on Sunday if we are to beat Zimbabwe,” said Mannetti, who also won the Cosafa Plate trophy in 2016.
The coach further cautioned that Zimbabwe was coming to Namibia with a mission of winning and hence his charges will be required to be clinical in their approach and vigilant, as well.
“We have to throw punches, big punches on Sunday and we need to covert our chances. They will fight back, as well. We have a serious problem of scoring and hopefully on Sunday we can get past that.
“All players need to score – not just the strikers – and I expect the midfielders too to assist and score goals. It should be a collective effort on Sunday. We have to play our socks off and die for the Namibian jersey.
The match starts 16h00 on Sunday at Sam Nujoma Stadium. Tickets are going for N$30 each at all Computicket outlets at Shoprite and Checkers stores countrywide. The second leg of the tie will be played in Harare, Zimbabwe next Sunday.
The full Brave Warriors squad: Lodyt Kazapua, Edward Maova with defenders Tiberius Lombard, Charles Hambira, Ferdinand Karongee, Riaan Hanamub, Larry Horaeb, Edmund Kambanda; midfielders Ronald Ketjijere (captain), Dynamo Fredericks, Immanuel Heita, Benyamin Nenkavu, Petrus Shitembi, Absalom Iimbondi; strikers Itamunua Keimuine, Hendrick Somaeb, Roger Katjiteo and Muna Katupose.