……. as Mannetti targets remaining AFCON points
By John Tuerijama
BRAVE Warriors head coach, Ricardo Mannetti, has welcomed the invitation by the Botswana Football Association (BFA) for the Brave Warriors to face the Zebras as part of Botswana’s independence celebrations scheduled for 30 September.
Namibia last played Botswana in 2017, when the Brave Warriors hammered the Zebras by a 3-1 margin. Since then the senior national soccer team has not had a single international friendly match in preparation for major international competitions, including the annual Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) championship and the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
In an interview with Confidente, Mannetti said only the locally-based players will be called up for the Botswana international friendly match. He said the match will benefit the likes of Sadney Urikhob and captain Ronald Ketjijere, with MTC Premiership top striker Panduleni Nekundi also expected to rejoin the training camp after nursing an injury.
The senior national football team mentor expressed satisfaction with his goal-keeping department, expressing optimism in former African Stars Football Club number-one goalie Loydt Kazapua who is expected to sign on the books of a South African football outfit.
As for the remainder of the 2019 AFCON qualifying matches, Mannetti said that it is imperative for the Brave Warriors to win all remaining games. Namibia will travel to Mozambique early next month to take on Os Mambas, with the return leg penciled for 13 October at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.
Namibia is also expected to play Guinea Bissau later this year before concluding their qualifiers against Zambia in Lusaka early next year.
“These remaining matches are definitely bigger and more important for us to ensure that we win all the matches to get the nine-points needed to qualify for AFCON finals.
“We have had the ten-point margin and with us getting a point against Zambia last Saturday, it means that we need to collect at least six points from the Mozambican encounters,” emphasised the head coach. He added that collecting points in an away match against Zambia next year remains a priority. However, in the absence of an active national football league Mannetti expressed concern regarding the match fitness of some players.
Mozambique played to a two-all draw against Guinea Bissau. But, that does not worry the Brave Warriors mentor whose mission, as per his contractual agreement, is to have the senior national team qualify for the AFCON showdown billed for Cameroon next year.
“The international friendly match is another important factor because that is where we expose players and it will be the perfect preparation for the boys,” emphasised the coach.
Mannetti remains skeptical about his striking force which has recently come under fire for failing to bang much needed goals. He is now counting on the expected return of South Africa-based goal poacher Peter Shalulile and Hendrick Somaeb. “We have a striking force that needs to improve by turning opportunities into goal-scoring chances. The Zambian match was not easy and looking back at previous matches we played against them, we have narrowed the gap. Zambia used to walk over us with ease and they are a quality team,” Mannetti stressed.
He believes that the national team top strikers, such as Deon Hotto, can only improve when the ratio of their goal scoring at the club level is tremendously improved.
“I am only a coach at the national level and they are playing for their clubs 24/7. The likes of Benson Shilongo and Hotto can only improve when they turn chances into goals. All that I can do is provide the tactical and technical guidance for them to do that,” said the former Civics FC midfielder.
The NFA website quoted the national team head coach as saying that the Brave Warriors will have to pull all the stops in their away games in Mozambique and Zambia as nothing but victory will secure AFCON qualification.
Guinea Bissau are Group K leaders on four points, with Mozambique placed second while Namibia shares a third position with Zambia on a point each.
Meanwhile, Mannetti is also scheduled to attend an International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) coaching seminar billed for London, United Kingdom, to look at the new trends in football. The coach, will be accompanied by the Namibia Football Association (NFA) Technical Director Timo Tjongarero and will engage English-based Namibian defender Ryan Nyambe.
“I spoke to his mother, but he [Ryan] has been avoiding me since he never responded to my communication. But I am going to meet him when in London,” Mannetti said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015