Hope for Namibia’s AFCON ambition – experts

By Michael Uugwanga

THE Brave Warriors may have lost 2-0 away to Guinea in their Group A match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers on 17 November, but there is still hope for them to qualify for the AFCON finals in Cameroon, said local football experts.

Despite the defeat, the Brave Warriors are third on the log with three  points, while Guinea and Mali are level at the top of the summit with four  points and Chad remains winless with no points after suffering two defeats against Namibia and Mali.

Only two teams from each group will qualify automatically for AFCON, while Namibia will be searching for its fourth appearance at the continental showpiece, having already featured at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt this year; the 1998 AFCON in Burkina Faso and the 2008 edition in Ghana.

Speaking to Confidente Sport this week, Blue Waters FC coach Lucky Shipanga said he believes the team can qualify for AFCON if the entire Namibian nation rallies behind the team, regardless of past results.

“We should just keep on fighting. When the team qualified to previous AFCON matches we were happy, but when they lose matches we chat bad words towards them. I’m very much in support of the current technical team as they are doing a wonderful job. No coach prepares a team to lose. It’s not easy to play away. We must capitalise on our home matches,” said Shipanga.

Ali Akhan, a former coach of Tigers FC, Orlando Pirates, African Stars and Black Africa, to mention a few, said for Namibia to qualify for AFCON they need to win all of their home matches and beat Chad  away.

He said in today’s life there are no more big or small football playing nations, referring to the Brave Warriors 1-1 draw against Nigeria in 2013 at Sam Nujoma Stadium.

On the other hand, Akhan said Namibian players were like lightweight boxers and not heavyweights in the game, compared to their counterparts from West African nations.

“We must just not drop points at home and then we beat Chad away. Today, there are no such things as small nations and big nations. You look at Guinea’s players, they play professional football in Europe and they are very physical with good technique, while our players – some play in England’s lower divisions (like Ryan Nyambe at Blackburn Rovers).

“Some of our players are playing in lower divisions in South Africa and in the ABSA Premiership in South Africa. Comoros, a small nation drew with Egypt. We also drew with Nigeria in Windhoek. You look at the last AFCON that we had to rely on Guinea-Bissau to draw against Mozambique for us to qualify and we should not rely on that again. We do have a chance to qualify to the AFCON,” Akhan said.

Former Brave Warriors striker Gerros  UriKhob, who played for Namibia at AFCON in 1998, said the players need extra motivation from the general public. “It is not easy to play away from home because those people will treat you bad, just to demoralise you before the match. The boys need our support. In football anything can happen,” he said.