Mannetti must be retained

By John Tuerijama

NAMIBIA’S lacklustre performance against Ivory Coast in their Group D final match, in which the Brave Warriors suffered a 4-1 hammering by the west-African nation put spotlight on the country’s poor preparations for the continental showpiece.

However local coaches remain adamant that head coach Ricardo Mannetti must continue steering the Brave Warriors ship and push for more international friendly matches to expose players a scenario that has not been forthcoming at all with Namibia having played one international friendly game against Ghana prior to the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) underway in Egypt.

A request has been made to the current Namibia Football Association (NFA) Normalisation Committee (NC) to retain Ricardo Mannetti and his technical team. The national senior team is expected to touch down at the Hosea Kutako International Airport  Thursday.

Mannetti’s contract will end on 31 July 2019, and is yet to be seen if an extension will be considered by the normalization committee or whether the future of the head coach will be determined by the anticipated new NFA leadership later this year.

Mannetti’s employment as head coach was confirmed in 2013, when he was tasked with ensuring the team wins the Council of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA), qualify for the 2018 Africa Nations Cup (CHAN), and qualify the national squad for the ongoing 2019 TOTAL Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in Egypt.

In their Group D campaign, Namibia lost their opening match against Morocco by a solitary goal and went on to lose to neighbouring South Africa in their second game by the same margin. However, the bombshell that totally devastated the Namibian team landed on Monday when the Brave Warriors found themselves on the receiving end of a 4-1 drubbing by Ivory Coast that effectively eliminated Namibia from the continental spectacle.

Former Brave Warriors head coach Rusten Mogane said there is no reason for the national football body’s Normalisation Committee to part ways with the current senior national football team’s technical committee.

Mogane said although he was not well-versed with the powers vested in the NFA’s Normalisation Committee, he hoped the current technical committee will remain intact and be allowed to concentrate on the 2020 CHAN qualifying match against Comoros including the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA)’s world cup qualifiers scheduled to kick off later this year.

The former teacher further said looking for a new head coach will negate the progress made by the current national team’s technical committee if the football association let go of the trio (Mannetti, Collin Benjamin and Ronnie Kanalelo).

“The team did well in Egypt, but the only hurdle was to find the back of the net as they created numerous chances to score from, unlike in the past when we had the likes of Gerros Witbeen and Congo Hindjou who could find the back of the net easily, even against powerhouses like Ivory Coast in 1998. But now that Mannetti knows the players very well he must continue coaching the team.”

He argued that bringing in a new coach would take Namibian football back to the drawing board, a situation that will not bode well for the development of the sport.

Former Brave Warriors’ player-cum-coach Robert Nauseb said the last 10 years were horrible in terms of football, as the country struggled to qualify for the continental contests. He argued that Namibia had foreign coaches who basically produced nothing but the current technical team has achieved marvels for the nation.

“Mannetti accomplished a lot under cumbersome circumstances in which the team had no training camp in their preparation for 2018 CHAN finals. And with limited resources the team qualified for the CHAN competition and progressed to the semi-final. Mind you, the league at one stage was so inactive but Manetti had to do with the little at his disposal to motivate players and have them (players) concentrate on the core objective.”

“I don’t see the reason why we must change the coach and bring in another. If we do that we will see our football going five steps backward. We must continue supporting the technical team in its future endeavours,” emphasized Nauseb.

Nauseb added that the lack of scoring by strikers is not just a national team’s problem but was a headache at club level. He further called on premier league clubs coaches to work closely with the national team’s coaching staff to put together a lethal striking force for the national side.

Quoted by the NFA’s official website, reflecting on the team’s final match against Ivory Coast, Mannetti said his side’s best was not good enough and the players must use the experience to raise their game. After a dismal and at times heart-breaking showing at AFCON, coach Mannetti described the players’ performance as “unacceptable”.

“I expected our key players to deliver and they did not pitch up. We created chances and we could not score and at this level you will lose if you don’t score out of a hundred chances,” said a clearly disappointed Mannetti.

Namibia conceded six and scored one goal during their AFCON campaign, losing all three Group D matches to bow out of the tournament at the bottom of the group. Mannetti added that players would have to use the experience to better their game and prepare better for upcoming challenges.

”You can’t compete against the best and not come to the party. We have dominated some facets of [our] games here and we just couldn’t kill off the games, and that was terrible. It’s high time players take responsibility and do their part.”

The coach blamed immaturity on the part of his players in the final game as the reason they lost 4-1 to Ivory Coast. “We have to be clinical. I’m disappointed because we made them look average and then we allowed then to make us look like high school kids, and that is not right at all… We gave them opportunities to score and that is unacceptable.”

Namibia finished with zero points at the bottom of Group D, with South Africa third on three points. Morocco finished top on nine points and together with second-placed Ivory Coast are through to the Round of 16 at the 32nd edition for the Total African Cup of Nations underway in Egypt.