Windhoek-A goal either half of play ended Namibia’s senior football team, the Brave Warriors’ further interest in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals underway in Morocco.
The Namibian amateurs suffered an unfortunate quarterfinal 2-0 defeat at the hands of hosts Morocco in front of a vociferous home crowd at the packed to capacity Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca on Saturday evening.
The hosts opened their account on 33 minutes following a quickly taken free kick that saw Ayoub El Kaabi finishing past the bemused Warriors agile shot stopper Loydt Kazapua to give Morocco a one-goal cushion going into the changeover (1-0).
Morocco extended their slender lead eight minutes after the restart via a headed goal by Sallahedine Saidi, from a corner kick.
The match started at frantic pace with both sides weighing each other up well in the opening 15 minutes before Warriors’ goalie Kazapua was called into action by a stinking header from Moroccan skipper Badr Benoun, but the African Stars gloves man was equal to the task.
Warriors attacking fullback Riaan Hanamub had sent a well-taken free kick from the left which evaded all and just missed the back of the net.
Tension was mounting and midfielder workaholic Dynamo Fredericks was booked for remonstrating with the referee after defender Charles Hambira was badly tackled.
The man in black uniform allowed play to continue, almost allowing Morocco to score but Achraf Benchhakri skied the ball from close range after he found space in the box following quick interchanging play by the hosts from that resultant incident.
The visitors won their first corner kick on 27 minutes but the chance went to waste. In the meantime, Namibia started to assert themselves, launching impressive attacks through midfield kingpin Petrus ‘Dancing Shoes’ Shitembi and Hanamub down the left side
Vitapi Ngaruka continued his impressive display at right fullback running his lungs out down the flank to win a corner on 45 minutes, thanks to his persistence.
In the second half, goatee-bearded centre back Tebs Lombard was introduced in place of the out-of-sorts Mashaba Karongee at the resumption, while Tigers skillful attacking midfielder Benyamin Nenkavu came on for the tiring Kaka Nekundi.
With 69 minutes gone on the clock, Ingwes’ target man Abes Iimbondi’s free kick was headed in by Hambira, only to be dubiously disallowed by the referee for an apparent foul on a Moroccan defender.
As the match wore on, Mohammed Nahiri had a go at goal on 76 minutes but his well-executed free kick hit the cross-bar as the disjointed Namibian held on for dear life. And that’s how it remained: Morocco 2-0 Namibia.
On the overall display, certainly a gallant showing by the Namibian amateurs whose exit can be justifiably attributed to inexperience – perhaps valuable lessons have been learned from Namibia’s adventure in Morocco going forward. – Additional reporting: NFA.org.na