Windhoek – The moment a country secures qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), there is no luxury of preference and comfort, as a team has to face and deal with whoever opponent they are pitted against, local football analysts opined.
Namibia’s Brave Warriors were seeded into Pot 4 of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations alongside Mauritania, Benin, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar ahead of tonight’s 2019 Afcon draw which will be held in Cairo, Egypt in front of the famous Egyptian Giza Pyramids.
With the Brave Warriors seeded in Pot 4, it means Namibia won’t be facing any of the countries in Pot-4 in the competition’s group stage in Egypt, and will thus tonight be drawn against one country from each of the top three pots respectively. The four pots of the 2019 Afcon are as follows; First seed: Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal. Second seed: Morocco, Nigeria, DR Congo, Algeria, Mali and Guinea Third seed: Uganda, South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe, Angola, Burundi, and Fourth seed: Mauritania, Namibia, Benin, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar.
With the seeding in that order ahead of tonight’s conclusive draw, local football pundits weighed Namibia’s chances of recording her first ever win at the continent’s biggest football showpiece and on how tonight’s mega draw will go a long way in determining the country’s fate in Egypt. Much experienced gaffer Woody Jacobs said hoping and praying that Namibia gets lighter opponents at tonight’s draw is of no use because a draw is an unpredictable process.
“The fact that Namibia is seeded in the fourth pot already places us in a tough situation because we are definitely going to face one of the top guns. In such situations, one has to be mentally prepared to face anyone and everyone at that level. I personally think that facing one of those top teams will somehow be a good thing because it becomes easy for us as coaches to motivate players. I mean, just imagine Namibia facing the likes of Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal, as a coach there will be no extra motivation speeches needed because the players will naturally be ready for such an occasion,” said the Unam FC trouper mentor Woody Jacobs.
Jacobs advised that the Brave Warriors seize the moment and go all out and strive to make the country proud, irrespective of who they get pitted against in tonight’s draw. “We really have a fantastic team and I’m confident the boys have what it takes to leave a mark in Egypt. They should just believe in themselves and anything can happen, because football is all about who wants it badly on that particular day.”
Highly respected football analyst Isack Hamata also oozed with confidence ahead of tonight draw, saying at this level of competition there is no room for preference and wishes but it’s a matter of facing whoever opponent you get.
“Look, we competed to qualify for Afcon and once you get at this level, you have to be prepared to face the toughest opponents because you do not have the luxury to pick and choose. Namibia deserves to be there [Afcon] and we should not fear or pick and choose who we wish to face. In Egypt, the boys should be prepared to stand head and shoulder among the so-called big guns of Africa and therefore the occasion demands that we fear no team and be well prepared,” said Hamata.
Former Namibia Football Association (NFA) president John Muinjo also threw his weight behind the Brave Warriors via Twitter, saying: “Look, at that level you do not choose. Remember the last time during Chan [Africa Nations Championship], Namibia was pitted against Ivory Coast, Uganda and Zambia and they prevailed. Bring them on mate, bring them on! In 2008, Namibia was with Ghana the host, Guinea and Morocco. We shouldn’t fear any opposition, it’s doable with the correct preparations.”
The 2019 Afcon will be the 32nd edition of the biennial tournament organized by the Confederation of African Football (Caf). The tournament will be hosted by Egypt and will be held from 21 June to 19 July 2019, as per the decision of the CAF Executive Committee in 2017 to move the Africa Cup of Nations from January/February to June/July for the first time. It will also be the first Africa Cup of Nations expanded from 16 to 24 teams.