BRAVE Warriors head coach Ricardo Mannetti is not deterred by the mammoth task awaiting him in September when the national senior side hosts Zambia’s Chipolopolo in the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier showdown. His confidence comes from the news that a number of Namibian national team players have signed lucrative deals in the competitive Egyptian, South African and Zambian top leagues. Responding to questions by this publication this week, the national side head coach said: “I am excited for them (players) as they will improve the national team, given that they get enough game time. It might also be lucrative for players but if they don’t play on a regular basis then it will not help both parties as their form will drop because of a lack of match fitness.” Namibia’s exceptional performance earlier this year during the African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in Morocco, opened many opportunities for a number of outstanding players such defender Teberius Lombard who signed with Zambian- based Lusaka Dynamos. Making his presence felt in the Egyptian football league is goal poacher Benson Shilongo, who signed on a dotted line with Egypt-based Alassiouty Sport Club (SC), while teammate Charles Hambira penned down a two-year deal with South African Premier League (PSL) outfit Baroka Football Club (FC). Also on the books of Baroka FC is Ananias Gebhardt, while shot-stopper Virgil Vries moved to glamour club Kaizer Chiefs FC. Mannetti said his technical team will make sure that they groom the national players to be able to make the grade for the professional market outside Namibia’s borders. “We make sure that our training and discipline is in line with professionalism that is required by teams abroad. So, this is the reason why a big number of (Brave Warriors) players made it into the professional set up,” said the head coach. Since 2013, Namibia has had about 20 players signing professional contracts, and this has augured well for the national team. However, the Brave Warriors gaffer said it will be difficult to thoroughly prepare the team for the Chipolopolo clash in the absence of the MTC Premiership. “We will need pre-season training and friendly matches to get the boys ready as this is most probably our most important game for the year and our preparations must address it if we want to beat a team that is currently in season,” said Mannetti. Preparations for the Zambian encounter kicked off earlier this week. “Yes, we have what it takes to qualify. We have depth in all the key areas and this is something we worked on for the past few years. So should key players be injured or not play at their clubs, we have enough depth to replace them,” he said. In the absence of the elite league action the head coach, who won the 2016 Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup, said the local-based players will start soon with their pre-season training just like their foreign-based counterparts. “Both local and foreign-based players will have a few games under their belt as their league will kick off a few weeks before we play Zambia. This will then allow us to mix the team,” he said. Regarding the problem of players indulging in drinking alcohol during the off-season and how this will affect their psychological and physical fitness, Mannetti said this was the reason they were kicking off the preparations early. “That is why we will start this week with training and mental preparation. The programme does not allow alcohol abuse. A player will have to be very brave to train twice a day, and still have time for a bottle. Like I said before, work rate and attitude comes first and we have previously let go of players that were not disciplined or that were putting alcohol first,” he said. The coach emphasised zero tolerance for ill-discipline, saying no player was irreplaceable.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015