Windhoek-The Namibia senior football team, the Brave Warriors, returned the compliment to their rugby counterparts by dispatching a strong Zimbabwean side in their opening match of the biannual CHAN Cup at Sam Nujoma stadium in Windhoek yesterday.
The victory followed short on the heels of the national senior rugby team’s hard fought triumph over Zimbabwe on Saturday, while the Namibian under-16 rugby side also saw off their Zimbabwean opponents in their final match of the Under-16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week match at Grey College in Bloemfontein, South Africa on Saturday.
Speedy winger Ballack Somaeb’s solitary strike in the opening half yesterday separated the two nations, as Namibia recorded their second consecutive win over their eastern neighbours in as many matches.
The Warriors thus have a one-goal cushion going into the decisive second leg in Zimbabwe this coming weekend.
Under-fire Warriors mentor Ricardo Manetti was obliged to reshuffle his cards after Namibia’s lukewarm showing at last month’s COSAFA Senior Challenge in South Africa that saw the team make an early exit from the regional tourney for the second successive year.
The hosts started the match like a house on fire, allowing the visitors little room to manoeuvre with some rocksteady defending. The centre-back pair of Mashaba Karongee and Tebs Lombaard stood their ground, giving nothing away while dealing efficiently with aerial balls against Zimbabwe’s beanpole strikers.
The much-needed victory eased the pressure off Mannetti, who has come under a heavy barrage of criticism after a string of poor results, despite the lack of action in the domestic football league for over a year now.
Apart from netting the only goal of the match, Somaeb was lively throughout the entire clash, in the process winning the Man of the Match award for his performance, ably assisted by veteran playmaker Petrus Shitembi, while new sensation Riaan Hanamub also played a blinder.
Namibia took the lead shortly after the halftime break when Somaeb latched onto a long through ball from defender Karongee to beat the Zimbabwean shotstopper hands down.
The Brave Warriors’ starting line up included Loydt Kazapua, Larry Horaeb, Mashaba Karongee, Tebs Lombaard, Stigga Ketjiere, Benjamin Nekavu, Petrus Shitembi, Absalom Iimbondi (Itamunua Keimuine) Roger Katjiteo (Dynamo Fredericks) Ballack Somaeb (Muna Katupose).