Difficult task ahead for Warriors… Namibia to face Senegal, Congo and Togo in World Cup qualifiers
WINDHOEK – Despite being drawn in a relatively tough group, local pundits yesterday said Namibia can surprise many and qualify to the next African round of qualification towards the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.
The Brave Warriors are pitted in Group H alongside Sadio Mane’s Senegal, Togo and Congo-Brazzaville.
The 40 teams are all drawn into ten groups of four, with only the section winners progressing to the third round.
The group phase will kick off in March this year and will end in October 2021.
According to the qualification rules, the ten group winners will then be drawn into five two-legged knockout ties to be played in November 2021.
Speaking to New Era Sport, former Namibia Premier League CEO Mathew Haikali said the Brave Warriors stand a good chance to make it through to the next round of qualifiers if the previous formula used by former coach Ricardo Mannetti is sustained, considering there is no active football league at the moment.
“Yes, I believe they stand a very good chance of making it through to the next round if the whole concept used by Mannetti during the 2019 Afcon qualifiers is used. That blueprint Mannetti incorporated over the years, if it is wisely implemented, will be key if we are keen on going through to the next round,” said Haikali.
“Bobby (interim Brave Warriors coach) has done well so far, and I think it will be well if the same formula is incorporated, then chances of us qualifying are very high.”
He, however, said it was now entirely up to the technical team to monitor the performances of national team players, including those plying their trade abroad.
He explained that the absence of an active league won’t have that bad an impact as most of the Brave Warriors players have turned professional and are based in regional and international leagues.
“The absence of an active domestic league won’t be an issue going into these qualifiers, it will depend on the preparations if done on time. We now have players that play professional football across the globe – these players can bring quality into the teams despite the league not functioning,” he said.
Interim Brave Warriors assistant coach Woody Jacobs also explained that Namibia has qualified before for a major event, without the country having an active league.
“It is a big task playing with those big teams, but if you want to be at the biggest showpiece on earth then you have to play with the best in the world. However, we are happy with the draw,” he said yesterday.
“Qualification will only take place next year but I hope and pray that on 22 February during the congress meeting they will come to an agreement for the league to begin. By then we will have local players in the team.” Jacobs also admitted that Senegal were among the favourites in Group H.
“Senegal is a powerhouse but gone are those days when we were whipped 7-0 or 4-0. That narrative has changed over the past years. For instance, most of our players have turned professional. Although they don’t play in the same league as the Senegalese players, I’m sure we can do it if we learn from our previous mistakes,” added Jacobs.
The well-travelled Ali Akan admitted that Namibia was drawn in a very tough group. “We stand a chance against Togo and Congo but with Senegal I don’t think we stand a chance, looking at the quality in that Senegalese team. Everyone has to accept their level, so we cannot say we are on the same level as Senegal,” the outspoken local coach said.
2020-01-23 07:50:15 | 29 days ago