Gladiators hold trials ahead of Shepolopolo test

• By Michael Uugwanga

THE Brave Gladiators held trials this week ahead of their encounter against Zambia’s Shepolopolo in the final round of the 2022 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations.

The Brave Gladiators will play against 2020 Olympic debutant Zambia in the first leg match between the 14 and 23 February.

The trials which started on Tuesday at the Namibian Football Association (NFA) Technical Centre in Windhoek will end today.

The notably familiar faces that attended trials with the new players that are trying to get the attention of the technical team, were captain and central defender Emma Naris, first choice goalkeeper Melissa Matheus, second choice ‘keeper Agnes Kauzu, defender Lydiana Nanamus, left-back Kamunikire Tjituka, and striker Beverly Ueziua.

The main training camp for the team is expected to start on January 17, with the rest of the squad expected to report for duty thereafter.

Both Namibia and Zambia would want to be amongst the 11 teams that will book a ticket to the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations which doubles as the African qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.

The 11 winners will qualify for the tournament to take place in Morocco from 2 to 23 July 2022.

As host, Morocco have qualified for the tournament automatically.

Brave Gladiators coach, Woody Jacobs told Confidente Sport that the reason why the trials are taking place it is to raise the competition within the team, after he had asked coaches in the women football league (Super League) to come up with the names of players to attend trials.

Jacobs is being assisted by former coach Robert Nauseb and former Brave Gladiators captain Mammie Kasaona.

“This is more or less a trial as you can see some new faces with the aim of bolstering the squad in order to raise the competition after we asked coaches within women football to come up with names whom they think can add value to the team. Right now we do not have the official camp as we are waiting for the final say from the NFA to when we can start where everyone will go into camp. Maybe some new faces will be added … we need to start as the qualifiers will start within a month’s time,” he said.

Heading into the match, Zambia will be favourites, however Namibia will have a final say as they last year surprisingly knocked out the 2021 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) champions Tanzania.

“Zambia is a heavyweight when it comes to women football in the region and on the continent that is why they were at the Olympics and they did well. I think they will be wary of us because we beat Tanzania even though nobody gave us a chance, but we also need to prepare well. If the preparation and mentality of the players is good I think we can do it,” said Jacobs.