Fair enough, a hastily assembled Brave Warriors managed against all odds to manufacture a hard fought 1-all draw against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in an International friendly away from home last month.
Needless to note that particular result has given many Namibians, notably those who are yet to come to terms with modern football dynamics a false sense of hope, so to speak.
A decent chunk of our best talent are shining in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the hype has once again drove us towards a slippery slope journey. Many are of a misplaced perception that the likes of Deon Hotto-Kavendjii, Peter Shalulile, Riaan Hanamub, Ananias Gebhardt and Virgil Vries are the real deal.
It should be noted that apart from the big money and world class facilities, the overall standard of South African football is rubbish. After Namibia’s mid-week narrow defeat at the hands of the visiting Mali in the return leg of their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, a chorus of discontent dominated social media with some armchair critics ridiculously calling for interim coach Bobby Samaria’s head to roll.
Yours truly had the privilege of watching the entire live broadcast of the match on NBC TV and is well placed to counter the calls for Samaria to be ushered through the exit door. Firstly, my personal assessment is that we lost against a well organized team oozing confidence despite playing away from home.
In terms of skills, match fitness, ball retention and almost every aspect of the game, our boys were left with a huge mountain to scale. The brutal truth is that our boys are nowhere near the level of Mali and other football heavyweights on the African continent and gravely lack the required mental strength to compete at the highest level.
Secondly, our team plays with no fixed structure and this scenario boils down to many teams in the domestic topflight league since time immemorial. In my honest opinion, the only team that played football the way the game should be played was the now defunct Khomasdal outfit Young Ones Football Club and to a certain extent, Orlando Pirates during the time of the late pair of Doc Hardley and Norries Goraseb and of course, African Stars under German import Dr Dieter Widmann.
Coming back to our overall performance against Mali, the dominant view amongst those who vented their anger on social media castigating the team’s apparent lukewarm performance is that the team’s tactics, selection and substitutions was unacceptable.
Those who were singled out for heavy criticism are stalwarts and regular campaigners Hotto-Kavendjii, Benson Shilongo, Petrus Shitembi and Larry Horaeb. From my observation, Shilongo is running low in confidence given the fact that he is by a mile the only squad member featuring in the most competitive league on the African continent, the Egyptian Super League, to be precise.
Yet, his playing time with the national team has been significantly cheesed off having to be satisfied with a cameo role from the substitutes’ bench, certainly not the ideal situation for a player rated highly in the land of the Pharaohs.
Changing and chopping of coaches will not be a solution, Samaria has done fairly well under trying circumstances and should be left to continue. Let us accept that we just don’t have a team good enough to be world beaters, lower your far-fetched expectations.
Given the current quagmire in which Namibian football finds herself entangled, the Warriors have no business grinding out decent results on the international arena, let alone being involved in competitive engagements. I rest my case.