WINDHOEK - Former Brave Warriors enterprising midfielder Lolo Goraseb and other local football pundits strongly believe that national senior football coach Ricardo Mannetti has carefully selected the best players to represent the country at this month’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.
On Monday, Mannetti announced his final 23-man squad for the 2019 Afcon but his final selection riffled a few feathers with some local football supporters and experts bashing Mannetti for dropping players they consider as experienced and are core components of the Warriors.
Notable old-time national team campaigners dropped from the Namibian Afcon squad are versatile defender Chris Katjiukua, who plays for Black Leopards in the South African premiership, and former Kaizer Chiefs goalie Virgil Vries as well as reliable defender Tiberius Lombard, who plies his trade in the Zambian Premier League for Lusaka Dynamos.
Their exclusion has seen upcoming talents such as Ivan Kamberipa, Charles Hambapira and goalie Ratanda Mbazuvara stepping in and winning themselves places in the Afcon squad. Other new arrivals include Blackburn Rovers utility defender Ryan Nyambe joining the squad for the first time and has also seen the return of German-based attacking midfielder Manfred Starke.
Speaking to New Era Sports yesterday, Goraseb – who was part of the famous Brave Warriors class of 1998 - said Mannetti as a coach chose the players himself believes are mentally and physically ready to lead the nation at such a big tournament.
“Mannetti and his technical team had to make a tough decisions in selecting the final team and I too think that is the best squad he could come up with for the Afcon finals despite what people are saying.
The reality is up to the coach and the technical team to select those players and we have to support whatever decision they make because they know better,” said Goraseb.
He however added: “I wish players like Vries and Lombard all the best in their careers but this is not the end for them. They still have a chance to bounce back if they work hard. But it would be best for them to focus on their career now because football is a short career”
In addition, the former Black Africa midfield maestro said players like Nyambe and Starke are vital to the team and will bring a wealth of experience and a different dimension to the team as they have been exposed to high level of football.
Another local football pundit and former Namibia Premier League (NPL) Chief Executive Officer Mathew Haikali added that he wasn’t surprised by the omission of Vries from the final group, saying the lack of game time for almost two months for Vries could have influenced Mannetti’s decision.
“Vries needs to do more to redeem himself. He’s a player who for the last two months didn’t have any game time, as he is currently clubless. We are all aware of the simple mistakes Vries made during his time at Chiefs and that even cost him his place at his former club.
So how fair is that for a player who haven’t shown any consistent form for the past few months to be incorporated into the team as the expense of others who are active throughout,” asked Haikali.
Weighing Namibia’s chances of winning her first ever match at the continental football spectacle, well-known football expert Isack Hamata said that with a positive mind it is capable for Namibia to win their first match at Afcon.
Brave Warriors Afcon 23-man: Ratanda Mbazuvara, Loydt Kazapua, Max Mbaeva, Ryan Nyambe, Larry Horaeb, Denzil Hoaseb, Ivan Kamberipa, Charles Hambapira, Riaan Hanamub, Ananias Gebhardt, Absolom Iimbondi, Willy Stephanus, Petrus Shitembi, Romald Katjijere, Dynamo, Fredericks, Marcel Papama, Manfred Starke, Deon Hotto, Itamanua Keimuine, Benson Shilongo, Peter Shalulile, Josyln Kamatuka and Issakar Gurirab.
2019-06-12 10:44:17 4 days ago