Clinical Shalulile keeps Namibia AFCON hopes alive .. as Warriors send Mambas packing
WINDHOEK – Peter Shalulile’s lone strike was enough to separate the two teams when hosts Namibia defeated Mozambique by a solitary goal in their back-to-back do-or-die 2019 AFCON Qualifier under floodlights at the Sam Nujoma stadium in Windhoek, last night.
Brave Warriors mentor Bucksy Mannetti made one change to the starting line-up that did duty against the Black Mambas in Maputo last weekend. Striker Benson made way for Sadney Uri-Khob.
The latter partnered Pikes Shalulile upfront with Awillo Stephanus operating in the hole between the twin strikers and midfield.
The hosts started the crucial Group K match perched in second place, three points adrift of group leaders Guinea Bissau, tailed by Mozambique and Zambia, in that sequence, sitting on four points after three rounds of matches though both Guinea Bissau and Zambia have played a match more.
Playing in front of a vociferous home crowd, the hosts found themselves on the back foot in the opening stage of the match – conceding successive corner kicks as the Mambas laid siege.
However, the Warriors should have been a goal to the good when the usually clinical lanky striker Pikes Shalulie stumbled when put through on goal with only the Mozambican goalkeeper to beat in the 5th minute after he beat the offside trap.
As was the case in the away leg in Maputo, the Mambas enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession and territorial advantage but failed to trouble Virgil Vries in the Warriors goal.
Tigers midfielder Abes Iimbondi had a good game on the right side of the compact midfield spraying telling passes but was badly let down by his teammates, as they would be found wanting in the final pass.
Veteran playmaker Petrus Shitembi was also a handful for the visiting side but was let down by one touch too many, losing ball possession unnecessarily.
Uri-Khob fired a shot in anger when latching onto a pass from captain Stigga Ketjijere but his weakly taken shot was parried for a corner by the Mozambican shot stopper.
At the other end, the Mambas’ inspirational skipper Elias Pelembe tried all tricks in the book of tricks but was thwarted by some steady defending by the Namibian rearguard, masterfully manned by Seun Haoseb and his twin centre backs Tebs Lombad and Junior Gebhardt.
Shalulie had another chance to redeem himself for his earlier howler but uncharacteristically misdirected a headed attempt away from goal following a cleverly executed delivery from the enterprising Shitembi.
The first half ended goalless with both sides embarking on a more cautious approach with clear-cut goal-scoring chances hard to come by in a congested midfield.
Mannetti unleashed his trusted trump card Deon Kavendjii-Hotto at the resumption, replacing Iimbondi who otherwise had a good game. The Mambas began to settle and kept dominating ball possession but could not penetrate the rock-solid Namibian rearguard.
Uri-Kbob was hauled off as the match looked destined for a stalemate - making way for pocket-sized midfielder Wangu Batista-Gome.
Pelembe fired a long-range shot in anger but Vries was untroubled as he gathered the ball easily. With action swinging from end to end, the visitors were the more enterprising going forward but wayward shooting let them down badly with Vries unable to come off his goal line to deal with crosses.
Shalulile finally atoned for his earlier miss when the former Tura Magic FC lethal target man masterfully controlled Stephanus’s teasing cross on his chest before volleying home from close range - sending the home crowd into loud rapturous heers (1-0).
Defender Hoaseb received marching orders for two bookable offences in the dying minutes of the match – obliging Mannetti to sacrifice Shitembi for defender Charles Hambira. Final score: Namibia 1–0 Mozambique.
Warriors starting lineup: Virgil Vries, Denzil Haoseb, Tebs Lombaard, Junior Gebhardt, Riaan Hanmub, Abes Iimbondi (Hotto), Petrus Shitembi (Charles Hambira), Stigga Ketjijere, Awillo Stephanus, Sadney Uri-Khob (Batista-Gome) Pikes Shalulile.
2018-10-17 12:10:10 6 months ago