… As Namibia forge ahead in Africa qualifiers
By John Tuerijama
FORMER Welwitschias lock Uakazuvaka ‘Wacca’ Kazombiaze says Namibia will have to target their match against Italy at the 2019 World Cup, for a possible first win ever in the competition, should they navigate their way successfully through the Africa Gold Cup.
Namibia are currently sitting pretty, after their Africa Gold Cup win of 95-0 against Senegal last Saturday, and lead the continent’s World Cup qualification log with 10 points, three ahead of Kenya.
The Welwitchias will lock horns with Zimbabwe on Saturday, in their second home tie of the Africa Gold Cup at the Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium.
Despite Namibia having played in the previous four World Cups, they are yet to record a win, and face the daunting prospect of playing in Pool B, against reigning champions New Zealand, South Africa and Italy, if they qualify for Japan 2019.
The fifth country in the group of death will be determined by a match between the runners-up of the Africa and Europe qualifying tournaments, with that winner then playing the Americas runner-up, to determine what is known as the repechage qualifier.
Kazombiaze said the Italians are the best bet, if Namibia are to record a first World Cup victory in 2019, despite the Azzurri (Sky-Blues) being a tough nut to crack.
He said that Namibian rugby has improved tremendously, but the players needed to play the full 80 minutes, instead of tiring after 50 to 60 minutes.
In a previous interview with Confidente, Welwitchias head coach Phil Davies was adamant that Namibia will not be a laughing stock, should they qualify for the Pool B Japan World Cup showdown.
Reflecting on the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, held in Australia and the United Kingdom respectively, Kazombiaze said that there had been a slight improvement, with Namibia having come close to beating Georgia in the 2015 spectacle, a match which they lost 16-17. “Our serious competitors for World Cup qualification has always been Zimbabwe and Kenya, and as far as playing at the Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium, we are confident of thrashing any team on our home soil,” emphasised Kazombiaze. He also showered Davies with praise, and said he was confident that Namibia would qualify for Japan 2019.
“In rugby, there are only three things – skill, experience and fitness and strength. It’s always good to blend the young upcoming talent with experience,” said Kazombiaze. “For a competition such as the World Cup, all that is needed is experience and strength, to accumulate the needed points, just like the coach has done at the recently-held IRB Four Nations Cup played in Uruguay,” he said.
He said that despite the poor availability of Namibia’s foreign-based legion, the likes of scrum-half Eugene Jantjies and others, would guide the country towards World Cup qualification. “It’s not going to be easy, but the Welwitschias will play a good rugby,” he said of the country’s chances at the World Cup.
Kazombiaze also gave credit to the commitment being shown by local players despite the national league not having an official sponsor. He, however, took swipe at the Namibia Rugby union (NRU) leadership, for their failure to invite former players to be part and parcel of the development of rugby.
Kazombiaze had also proposed to the rugby leadership that players from 2007 and 2011 play curtain raisers at premier league matches, so that the proceeds of the gate sales can be pocketed by the league, but the suggestion has fallen on deaf ears.
He said that the future of rugby looks promising, as rugby matches are being played every weekend, and clubs are totally committed. The retired lock forward, and former Birmingham and Solihull RFC player, commended FNB Namibia for their positive involvement in rugby.
He said with such contributions from the private sector, Namibia can truly be known as a rugby playing nation.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015