WINDHOEK – Young footballer Ryan Nyambe, whose loyalty to Namibia came into question after his recent inclusion into the Brave Warriors squad for this year’s African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament, says he had already assured the coaching staff of his availability prior to the team’s dramatic qualification in March.
Boasting perhaps the highest profile in the squad headed for Egypt, the England-based 21-year-old is set to make his competitive debut for the Brave Warriors at the 2019 Afcon, where Namibia faces continental powerhouses Ivory Coast and Morocco, as well as neighbours South Africa in Group-D.
While Nyambe’s inclusion in the squad excited many Warriors supporters, murmurs of dissent were also observed – with some questioning why the Blackburn Rovers defender did not avail himself during the team’s toiling qualifiers.
But in an interview with New Era yesterday, Nyambe, a blue-eyed boy of the passionate Rovers faithful, said he has been in touch with the Warriors technical staff and had already agreed to join the team before it qualified for Egypt.
“I had assured the coach already that I’ll join the team once the [English Championship] season is over,” he told New Era.
“When the opportunity first arose I had just returned from injury. I didn’t feel myself and my confidence was really low, so my focus was to get back into the Rovers side.”
He added: “I had told the coach [Ricardo Mannetti] that once everything was OK with me and the season is over, I’ll join the team. When I made that promise, the team had not qualified for Afcon. I was availing myself whether we had qualified for Afcon or not and I’m just happy that this is finally happening.”
Born in Katima Mulilo in 1997, Nyambe joined Blackburn’s academy at the age of 13 before making his senior debut four years later. He has 97 appearances under his belt for Rovers and yesterday said he was confident of the quality he is adding to the squad.
“I am a good defender and it is hopefully in this area that I’d help the team. I’ve played right-back all my career so that’s where I feel most comfortable.”
About his call up to the national team ahead of Afcon, he said: “I’m very excited about it. A big, big task and a big tournament, so I’m excited about the team. Afcon is a big tournament that shows what African players have got.”
On his rapid rise to the pinnacles of football, Nyambe said: “Discipline is key. I keep away from social media influence, partying and drinking. I am prepared to impart some of my advice and experiences to my new teammates.”On future plans, the defender said: “I’d like to play with Blackburn in the EPL [English Premier League]. They have been a huge part of my life and they took good care of me.”