… NFA president speaks after return from landmark CAF symposium
By John Tuerijama
NAMIBIA Football Association President, Frans Mbidi, says that the ultimate goal of the Brave Warriors is to qualify for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Kenya, and go on to win the competition on debut.
Mbidi was speaking this week, shortly after the national team swept Zimbabwe aside last Sunday, and will now play the Comoros in a third round qualifier on 11 and 18 August.
The Brave Warriors beat Zimbabwe 5-4 in a penalty shootout, after the second leg tie in Harare ended 1-1 on aggregate.
Mbidi implored the national team to continue working hard, so that they make it to the finals in Kenya.
“Hard work does not kill. Continue working hard for the matches to come and remain focused on the job ahead,” he told the team. “Our ultimate aim is to win the championship, and to realise that, we need to put more emphasis on hard work, determination and national pride, in our quest to achieve accolades of this magnitude. The Namibian nation has played a big role in this victory (against Zimbabwe) and it is only fitting that the team dedicates this achievement to the Brave Warriors’ fans and the general public at large. We are grateful!” Mbidi said. Namibia is yet to qualify for the CHAN spectacle since the maiden tournament in 2009. The tournament features players plying their trade in their national leagues. Expatriates, regardless of where they play, even if it is in Africa, are not qualified to take part in CHAN.
The inaugural CHAN tournament was held in the Ivory Coast, and was won by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The competition was expanded to 16 teams during the second tournament, held in Sudan in 2011, and Tunisia was crowned as champions. Libya won in 2014, while the DRC again triumphed in 2016, while the host nation of that occasion was Rwanda. Mbidi told Confidente that the Brave Warriors and their technical team can be very proud of their victory over Zimbabwe. CAF symposium The NFA president recently returned from a Confederation of African Football symposium in Rabat, Morocco, which was attended by CAF and FIFA officials, as well as national football associations and national team coaches and former footballers, who discussed changes to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) format and the scheduling of the tournament.
“The symposium in Rabat was a milestone in terms of the new CAF executive’s continued pursuit for progress in football on the continent, as well as its efforts to improve relationships with sponsors, partners and governments,” Mbidi said. Asked what Namibia’s stance is on the proposal of increasing the number of teams from 16 to 24, for the Afcon finals, and moving the competition date to between May and June, Mbidi said the expansion of the competition is highly welcomed.
“This will mean increase in matches, viewership, commercial rights and most importantly revenue for CAF and the football associations,” he said. “Moving the competition from between January and February to between May and June is a welcoming development. At the last NFA Congress in Walvis Bay, the congress resolved to change the football season to run from February to November, as opposed to the previous August to May season,” he emphasised. Mbidi said that the decision was informed by the fact that the AFCON competition, and most CAF competition finals, were held during the months
January and February, but now that the AFCON competition has been shifted to between May and June, the NFA will consider reverting back to August to May local season. Asked who represented Namibia at the CAF symposium, the NFA president said that the invitation was extended to the association’s president, secretary-general and the national team coach, but only Mbidi and NFA Secretary-General Barry Rukoro represented the association. Regarding the difficulties of SADC countries register more than four teams for past Afcon competitions, Mbidi said: “You can clearly detect that there are no more minnows in football. With Zambia capturing the Under-20 AFCON trophy earlier this year, one can safely say that the Southern African region has come of age, and more countries are now poised to lift the most coveted trophy on the continent in two years time.” Commenting on CAF President Ahmad Ahmad’s call for national football associations to revitalise themselves and design new rules and procedures, while showing ambition and banning amateurism, as well as clientelism, which is the exchange of goods and services for political support, the NFA president said that the statement not come as a surprise. He said that the NFA and the Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) were fully in support of Ahmad. About the statement by FIFA President Gianni Infantino that after 35 years, Africa is still in the same place in terms of football, Mbidi said that there were cordial relations between Infantino and CAF, and that this is a good sign, in terms of growth and progress on the continent.“Africa needs awakening, you can only dream when you’re sleeping. We must shift our attention from wishful thinking and to a constructive mentality, where we put plans into motion,” he said. Asked whether the change in scheduling of the Afcon tournament had been brought about to harmonise it with the end of European season, the NFA president said the proposal to change the scheduling had not been taken by the CAF executive, but had been a CAF General Assembly resolution.
Commenting on the passing of Brave Warriors and football mascot, Robson ‘Robbie Savage’, Mbidi said his death was a great loss.He said that the football fraternity had been blessed with a wonderful human being, who was everyone’s favourite.
“He was passionate about the people’s game and indeed a true patriot. Words are not enough to describe the person he was in our lives, and the contribution he made to the game is immeasurable,” said Mbidi.
Mbidi echoed the proposal of President Hage Geingob that a match be organised in honour of Robbie. Plans are already underway to make the match a reality
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015