WINDHOEK – Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti says Saturday’s 1-all draw against the enduring Chipolopolo of Zambia is not a ‘train smash’ situation, as Namibia still boast a good chance securing a seat at next year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Brave Warriors striker Benson Shilongo, who came on as substitute, gave Namibia the lead late into the second half and it appeared as though Mannetti and his charges were headed for a victory.
But it was Justin Shonga who salvaged a point late on for Zambia as he struck a 90th-minute equaliser to deny Namibia a home win in Saturday’s Group K Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.
Saturday’s draw leaves Namibia and Zambia in third and fourth places respectively in Group K, with both countries sitting with one point each. Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, who played out a 2-2 draw on Saturday, currently occupy the qualification spots on four points each.
Speaking to New Era Sport, Mannetti said although Saturday’s draw against Zambia was a missed opportunity to collect maximum points and boost Namibia’s chances of qualification, all hope is not yet lost as there is still four more games to go and anything can happen in upcoming fixtures.
“There is still four more games to go and if you look at the group log table, it is still very tight and equally open for any team to take it. So we will move on, work hard and remain on track for qualification to next year’s AFCON. Two teams will qualify from each group and that means we have to win our coming matches and be on of the two teams that will qualify from our group. Obviously Saturday’s draw was not the desired result but it’s not a trash-smash as there is still hope,” said a confident Mannetti.
In Saturday’s post-match interview, Zambia’s coach Sven Vandenbroeck said his side’s fighting ability was key.
“It was a tight game and I’m pleased with my team’s character to come back from 1-0 down to get away with a point. Not ideal result but a fair result. The reaction from the boys is commendable given the circumstances.”
Namibia’s 2019 AFCON Qualification fixtures:
Mozambique vs Namibia; October 10, 2018
Namibia vs Mozambique; October 13, 2018
Namibia vs Guinea Bissau; November 16, 2018
Zambia vs Namibia;
March 22, 2019