By John Tuerijama
WHEN the draw for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations was released last week, many were keen to find out who Namibia was pitted against and how easy or difficult it will be for the Brave Warriors to qualify for the finals proper.
As soon as the news filtered through that Namibia was in one group (Group K) with neighbours Zambia and Mozambique, and Guinea Bissau, many commentators felt the toughest challenge for qualification would come from the Chipolopolo, as the Zambia team is known.
The Brave Warriors coach, Ricardo Mannetti, however, has a different take on things. He regards Guinea Bissau as the biggest threat to the extension of his employment contract, considering that his performance is tied to whether or not he will get Namibia to the 2019 finals.
Of Namibia’s competitors for the 2019 AFCON qualifiers, only Guinea Bissau has managed to book a place at the 2017 AFCON showpiece currently underway in Gabon.
Mannetti said in terms of the 2017 AFCON qualifiers, Namibia played against the likes of Senegal who are currently contesting for the AFCON title and have done extremely well in their campaign thus far.
“Looking at the 2019 AFCON qualifiers draw, Guinea Bissau has been rated as the underdog in Gabon but they have surprised everyone. In their opening match, they played to a goalless draw against host Gabon, and went on to lose 2-1 to Cameroon, and then also lost their final group match to Burkina Faso which saw them bidding farewell to the competition. They must have had positive preparations and rightfully had two years of preparation for their qualification,” he said.
“They must not be taken lightly and we have seriously studied them very well as it is important how we rally against them to get the necessary result. Guinea Bissau is a typical West African team with good height at the back and can easily withstand set pieces,” emphasised Mannetti.
He added that Guinea Bissau boast a dangerous striking force who also have the height, speed and strength and could be troublesome when they take set pieces.
“But all proper and thorough preparations depends on how well equipped his charges are both locally and abroad.”
When pressed on the lack of domestic league action, Mannetti said he could not comment on the situation but added that the football administrators are working hard to fix it.
“As a coach, I really can’t comment on the situation but I am confident our sport administrators are doing what they can for the league to start soon,” he said.
He said if the league could start as soon as possible it would be good for the players and it will also make things easy in terms of preparing for the 2019 AFOCN zqualifiers.
“We have a big number of Namibian players playing outside and all we waiting for is for the football administrators to either give us a green or red light for our preparations,” he said.
On the issue of foreign-based players like the Hamutenya brothers in Scandinavia, and Finland-based Pyry Henry Hidipo Soiri, the gaffer said he has been keeping a close eye on them.
“Yes, the likelihood of them being invited is there, depending on whether they play regular football and also if they fit in our playing set up.”
He said players plying their trade outside Namibia should not expect automatic inclusion into the national team but they need to be tested to see if they indeed to fit in the Brave Warriors’ playing system.
“My issue is, where are these boys playing or don’t play? Yes, I am following them, and this boy, Soiri, I spoke to him a year-and-a half ago, even before NBC television did a story on him. And you know the Scandinavian football season is different from ours in that when our season is on they are in the off season. But yes, I need to see these boys and see if they fit into the coach’s philosophy,” said Mannetti.
On the issue of friendly matches, Mannetti is of the opinion that the Brave Warriors have always had friendly matches under his watch and that the NFA has always supported the idea of friendly matches for the national side.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015