By John Tuerijama
FORMER Brave Warriors coach, Rusten Mogane says the national Under 17 football team can emulate or match the Class of 1998 and the 2015 Cosafa Cup winning team.
Mogane was coach of the Brave Warriors when the team qualified and played in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time in 1998.
The Class of 1998 is the name given to the group of players who represented Namibia at 1998 AFCON in Burkina Faso and which also ended twice as runners up in the 1997 and 1999 Cosafa Cup tournament.
Namibia also twice dispensed of South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in the preliminary rounds of the Cosafa Cup in 1998 and 1999.
Mogane has advised the Under 17 coach, Timo Tjongarero to continuously inform senior national coach Ricardo Mannetti of the young players’ progress with a view to accommodate them in the national side.
He said the Namibia Football Association should also continue building the team by exposing them and making adapt to different types of conditions, systems and strategies in order to build a competitive advantage over other nations.
The coach and his players need to be congratulated for an excellent job. “The technical team has moulded the team into a force to reckon with. The future looks bright but only if the private sector can become the third impact player and assist the team in particular, and football in general to grow in leaps and bounds.
The Namibian team had a tumultuous run into the competition, having had to replace six players who were pulled out of the team due to concerns for their education. Most of the boys are in Grade 10 and are due to sit for final examinations in September.
The Namibian Football Association (NFA) also had to subject the players to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) testing at a cost of around N$100 000 to ensure that they were really of the right age. MRI testing is used in age group competitions to curb age cheating, a problem which has set back the development of football on the continent and which was at one stage prevalent in Namibia.
The NFA’s decision to ensure all players are of the right age proved to be in their favour considering that Zambia, the strongest team in the Cosafa Under 17 tournament, was kicked out at the semi-final stage after two of their players were found, through MRI testing, to have reduced their ages to be eligible for participation in the tournament.
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