By John Tuerijama
BRAVE Warriors head coach, Ricardo Mannetti’s major headache has started. His head is now pounding as he increasingly starts to worry about the state of Namibian football and how that will affect the country’s chances of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Qualifiers for the competition are already scheduled to start in the middle of this year.
With the domestic league in sleep mode, Mannetti is between a rock and hard place as far as player selection is concerned. He must either rely on the players who won him the COSAFA Cup in 2015 or entirely depend on his foreign legion, many of whom do not command starting line up positions at their respective teams.
“These are seriously trying times for the national head coach as we need to prepare in earnest for the competitions that lie ahead. We need to start preparing for the qualifiers but at this stage I cannot divulge any information but will soon make a major announcement regarding the way forward,” said Mannetti.
Namibia is drawn in Group K along with Guinea Bissau, Zambia and Mozambique. Zambia have just won the Under-20 AFCON against Senegal and expectations are that most of those youngsters will be drafted into the Chipolopolo senior national team. That will surely pose a more serious head ache for Mannetti who is hoping that the Namibia Premier League finds a sponsor soon to give his local players some action on the field.
Mannetti’s biggest concern is that the local players have not been active since April last year when the 2016/17 season came to an end. He is therefore of the view that the local and foreign-based players would need to be combined to form a strong team. He would have loved to have friendly matches played before the qualifiers but he said it would not make sense to do that because of the inactivity of all the local players.
He has called on local players to not sit at home doing nothing but to start training on their own to keep fit ‘as there is simply no time to waste’.
Apart from the local players who have been inactive for almost a year, Mannetti will hopefully rely on the 10 Namibians who ply their trade in South Africa and the three who are based at various teams in Europe’s lower leagues.
What is pleasing however is that Mannetti or the Namibian Football Association are not thinking of throwing in the towel but to rather fight to the bitter end with the ammunition at their disposal.
With Namibia’s worrying economic situation, doubts were cast whether Namibia will have the funds to participate in international sports competitions but the NFA has given no indication of a pull-out.
A country like Malawi, which is also going through economic tough times, has announced its withdrawal from the AFCON and CHAN qualifiers, citing lack of funding as a main excuse.
The Malawian FA (FAM) this week announced that its executive committee has decided to withdraw from AFCON and CHAN as the Malawian government was not able to provide funding for the national teams. This, FAM said, left it without a choice but to withdraw from both qualifiers.
FAM said it was ready to face sanctions from CAF as well. In a statement, the association said: “FAM would like to inform the general public and all its stakeholders that it is fully aware of the negative implications including fines and suspension such withdrawal may attract. However, in its consideration, such withdrawal and its negative implications cannot be avoided looking at the current level of desperation that the Senior National Football team is in terms of funding and overall support.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015