Youngster Vitapi Ngaruka and experienced striker Benson Shilongo scored two second-half goals to complete a remarkable comeback by Namibia’s Brave Warriors, who defeated the Crocodiles of Lesotho 2-1 in a thrilling international friendly match at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Tuesday night.
In a game played in front of a very good crowd, Lesotho took the lead on 44 minutes through Sera Motebang and in the second half Namibian rising young defender Vitapi Ngaruka rose the highest to meet a corner kick and head home the equaliser on 64 minutes before Benson Shilongo buried the winner on 80 minutes.
Stand in coach Ronnie Kanalelo dedicated the match to head coach Ricardo Mannetti who was absent due to family bereavement and was also impressed with the team’s determination.
“The new boys that started grew in confidence as the game went on and in the end we also had to make changes to change the game and it happened for us. The team showed character today, it’s not easy to come back from a goal down at home but we did that and went on to win. We dedicate this win to coach Mannetti whose family have been struck by tragedy and we keep him in our prayers,” Kanalelo said after the match.
The Brave Warriors started the match with three new starters in the form of Tura Magic midfielder Romeo Kasume, and defenders Aprocius Petrus of Eleven Arrows and Hubert Mingeri from Life Fighters and while Kasume struggled to find his feet earlier on, Petrus and Mingeri connected well with play, adding numbers in attack when necessary.
The entertaining game saw Lesotho draw first blood on 44 minutes through their top striker Sera Motebang, who beat the Namibian defenders to a high ball played through before leaving goalkeeper Max Mbaeva in his wake to score in an open net.
Brave Warriors captain Ronald Ketjijere and Dynamo Fredericks fought hard in midfield while Deon Hotto had his trademark runs down the left, with Absalom Iimbondi adding more fire on the attack as he linked up well with Shilongo.
In the second half, Kasume was replaced by clubmate Itamunua Keimuine as the hosts looked to get back into it and it took them about 15 minutes to do so as Ngaruka connected well with an Iimbondi corner to make it 1-1, very much to the appreciation of those that packed the stands at the majestic venue.
Lesotho then seemed to be playing for a draw before Shilongo capitalised on a quick Namibian free-kick to stamp the ball home from close range to make it 2-1, a lead the hosts could have added on.
Both sides made several changes to the playing personnel in the friendly match as they both prepare for COSAFA 2018 to be held in South Africa from 27 May to 07 June and the resumption of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers in September.