WINDHOEK – Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti has commenced with groundwork for Namibia’s qualification to next year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON), when he called up a provisional squad of 29-members for a six weeks training camp in preparation for crucial upcoming AFCON qualifiers.
Snugged in Group-K of the qualifiers, the Brave Warriors will face regional rivals Zambia on September 7, in Windhoek, and Mannetti is wasting little time in assembling his army as the Zambia clash is a must win for Namibians if they are to keep their AFCON dreams intact.
Namibia, pitted against Zambia, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau in Group-K, are second from bottom on the four-team group table with no points following their 1-0 defeat away to Guinea Bissau in June last year. Mozambique and Guinea Bissau are currently topping the group in that order with three points each, while Zambia are rooted to the bottom of the log.
With the Brave Warriors at least in need of 10 points to secure a seat in Cameroon next year at the AFCON finals, Mannetti and his charges are under extreme pressure to secure four three wins in their upcoming qualifiers or at least win three matches and secure a draw to bag 10 points, which should be enough to send Namibia through to AFCON 2019.
In preparation for the upcoming Zambia clash, the 2015 COSAFA Cup-winning coach yesterday called up a 29-men squad, which comprises of regular players and a few youngsters from the national Under-23 ranks, who have been brought in to exchange notes with their more experienced and exposed seniors during the six weeks camp.
“We have a lot of crucial games coming up and we have to start with preparations now. Reaching the 2019 AFCON finals has been my mandate and remains my plan to take the team there. This year, we competed at CHAN and now we have to play at another continental tournament and we need to prepare and prepare well,” said Mannetti.
UNAM FC striker Muna Katupose and Tura Magic midfielder Petrus Shitembi are amongst the regulars called up for training after missing out on this year’s COSAFA CUP due to injuries, while six U/23 players who shone during their recent tour to China are also included in the training squad.
Former Blue Waters striker Hendrik Somaeb, who remains unattached at the moment, and Civics’ goalkeeper Edward Maova (was out due to injury), both makes the training squad called up yesterday.
“These preparations are essential because this is a pre-season squad and most players have not played football for the past three months opposed to Zambia, who are currently in season. Training will start today (yesterday) and we have six weeks of training to get the boys ready in terms of fitness. We already lost our first match against Guinea Bissau, this means we are not going to experiment much; we are going to go with the tried and tested players. COSAFA definitely showed us that Zambia is not an easy opponent and we need to make sure we beat them here at home. That’s why I have chosen to call up players that I have worked with in the past, players that are able to withstand pressure,” elaborated Mannetti.
As for the junior players called up, Manetti said: “The players stand a strong challenge to make it to the final squad, this is merely to get them used to playing with players that are better than them and for them to get used to training with high tempo because they also have qualification games coming. So it’s beneficial for all players involved.”
Namibia’s 2019 AFCON Qualification fixtures:
Namibia vs Zambia September 7, 2018
Mozambique vs Namibia October 10, 2018
Namibia vs Mozambique October 13, 2018
Namibia vs Guinea Bissau
November 16, 2018
Zambia vs Namibia March 22, 2019
Brave Warriors for a training camp: Edward Maova (Civics), Abel Paulus (Life Fighters, U/23), Ratanda Mbazuvara, (African Stars), Donovan Kanjaa (Young African), Ferdinand Karongee (Tigers), Tusha Erasmus Ikeinge (Khomas Nampol), Larry Horaeb (Unattached), Edmund Kambanda (UNAM), Emilio Martin (Black Africa), Petrus Kamati (Pescanova, U/23), Vitapi Ngaruka (Black Africa), Lubeni Haukongo (Eleven Arrows, U/23), Ikuaterua Hoveka (Young African), Imannuel Heita (Black Africa), Dynamo Fredericks (Black Africa), Hiha Katjivena (Tura Magic, U/23), Gustav Isaak (Tigers), Aprosius Petrus (Eleven Arrows, U/23), Ronald Ketjijere (African Stars), Benyamen Nenkavu (Tigers), Petrus Shitembi (Tura Magic), Absalom Iimbondi (Tigers), Marcell Papama (UNAM), Itamunua Keimuine (Tura Magic), Panduleni Nekundi (African Stars), Hendrik Somaeb (Unattached), Pinehas Willem (Eleven Arrows), Muna Katupose (UNAM) and McCartney Nawaseb (Black Africa/, U/23).