Tomorrow, March 24 is a very special day that brings back fond memories when Namibians of all walks of life celebrated the Brave Warriors’ Afcon qualification for her maiden appearance at Africa’s biggest showpiece in Burkina Faso in 1998.
Yesterday saw the traditionally peaceful Land of the Brave celebrate her 29th year of democracy and many Namibians are still soaked up in celebratory mode ahead of the country’s senior football team’s much anticipated crunch match for the 2019 Afcon finals.
Standing on the verge of qualification, the fired-up Warriors confront continental powerhouse Zambia’s Chipolopolo in their own backyard in a dead-rubber match for the host nation.
It’s now an open secret that the hosts are out of contention for a place in the finals – but the pressure is on Bucksey Manettie’s soldiers to wrap up an otherwise fluent campaign that saw them brush aside the much fancied Mozambican Mambas en route to strengthen their credentials as serious contenders for a top two finish in Group K before the Afcon qualifiers run full circle, this weekend. History reveals that the Warriors are traditionally better travellers having won their decisive qualifying matches in astonishing fashion against Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) away from home on the two occasions the team needed to nail a final qualifying spot for Africa’s August sports gathering.
Who would ever forget Gerros ‘The Bomber’ Uri-Khob’s right-footed cracker against the ‘Harambee Stars’ in Nairobi in 1997 to set the tone for a final push ahead of the decisive clash against Gabon in Libreville. It took the nerves of steel and unbelievable courage of a skinny young midfielder going by the name of Congo Hindjou to dispatch the spot kick awarded after the deadly boot of the Bomber was about to pull the trigger.
The Chief Santos serial net buster was roughed up in the penalty box – leaving the “biased” referee with no other option than pointing to the 12-yard mark.
As it stood, both nations were hopelessly desperate to manufacture a good result with the hosts the more vulnerable as they needed a win to have any mathematical chance of going through, whereas the visitors needed just a draw to book their seats on the big flying bird to Ouagadougou. The match ended 1-all ensuring that Namibia went through.
It’s now slightly more than two decades since Namibia launched her maiden assault on the continental spectacle and exactly eleven years since her last appearance in Ghana 2008.
Interestingly none of the trident of contenders for the top two qualifying spots in Group K are guaranteed a ticket to Egypt later this year but truth be told, Namibia is in a very good moment to go through. Should we lose which is unlikely and Guinea beat, or draw with, Mozambique – we are through.
Nevertheless, we have absolutely no business depending on other results going our way. Either by hook or crook, we must fashion a decent result against the already eliminated Chipolopolo and “Bucksey’s Babes” certainly have the capacity to achieve the feat.
To the technical staff and entire squad members – I wish you all the best and good luck. I rest my case.