While Namibians in all spheres of the country are waiting with bated breath the country’s participation in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) slated for next month in Egypt, a catastrophic man-made storm is brewing at the troubled Namibia Football Association (NFA) Football House in Katutura.
With just a few weeks left before the 32nd edition of the continent’s biggest football showpiece gets underway in Egypt, Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti is a man in the dark and currently has no clue as to where his immediate future stands as national team coach.
Mannetti’s contract as national team coach will run full circle end of next month and as it currently stands, it has not yet been renewed, extended and nor has the coach been given any serious indication as to where his future stands at Football House.
For starters, when Mannetti was appointed as Brave Warriors coach his ultimate mission was to accomplish “Project 2019”, which was to qualify Namibia for this year’s Afcon and build a strong foundation for the various national teams; amongst other targets as set out by the NFA back then.
On my check list I’m fully convinced that Mannetti has accomplished all set targets and has unwaveringly followed his contractual instructions to the letter by qualifying Namibia to the 2019 Afcon and in the process helped Namibia win her first ever Cosafa Cup trophy in 2015 and followed up on that success by winning the Plate section of the same competition the following year.
Not only has the Brave Warriors restored respect in the region, but the team has grown in leaps and bounds over the years under Mannetti’s eagle eyes. The record number of Namibian football exports has grown and continues to grow since Mannetti took over and the stability and quality of the national team speaks for itself and is there for all to see.
Continentally, again under Mannetti’s watch, Namibia for the first time ever managed to qualify for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) and has since continued to enjoy respect in the African football arena.
At a time when many doubted the ability of local coaches, Mannetti came along and took the Brave Warriors to new unmatched heights and in the process brought back hope to a nation that almost turned its back on the national team.
With the Mannetti-inspired Brave Warriors’ resurgence, Namibians and local football could dream and after so many years, the Sam Nujoma and Independence stadiums were packed to the rafters again and Namibians regained pride in our red and white Brave Warriors jersey. Brave Warriors’ achievements under Mannetti are countless and continue to inspire.
Fast forward and having achieved all that, Mannetti is faced with a contract that will end next month and the Fifa-appointed Normalisation Committee for NFA, together with its stakeholders, has not yet offered or reviewed Mannetti’s contract and when asked about it at yesterday’s press conference in Windhoek, the committee’s chairlady Hilde Basson-Namundjembo crisscrossed around the question and offered a cosmetic response of “we are still talking to him and busy looking at it”.
Now this is a response to a coach who will in a few weeks’ time be expected by all Namibians to gallantly lead the Brave Warriors in Egypt. This is a coach that has no clue if he will have bread on the table once “Project 2019” is over and this is despite him having achieved all set targets in his contract.
According to our reliable multiple sources within the Normalisation Committee and at Football House, the Basson-Namundjembo-led committee is said to have unilaterally taken a decision not to renew Mannetti’s contract, citing lack of jurisdiction to touch on a coach’s contractual issue.
If they do not have jurisdiction to make decisions on the contract of the national team coach, then they should as well just leave the situation as is until a substantive leadership is elected. The committee’s stay at Football House is temporary and should thus avoid making decisions that will have far-reaching consequences for all Namibians.
This publication has also been reliably informed that the committee plans to advertise Mannetti’s post or alternatively offer him a short contract that will likely see him remain only until this year’s CHAN qualifiers.
At this point, it is mind-boggling and one wonders why the NFA, Namibia Sport Commission (NSC) or even the line ministry have not yet enquired about Mannetti’s future and that of the national team by extension.
Losing Mannetti at such a crucial time of Namibian football will be catastrophic and ten steps back into the wilderness where local football once was. I cannot find any serious reason why and what the long negotiations between the coach and the committee are all about?
Mannetti’s record as national team coach speaks for itself and anyone with a slight understanding of football will agree with me that Mannetti should not board that plane to Egypt without contractual stability – as far as fairness and principles are concerned.
The Brave Warriors are a national strategic asset that should not be tampered with for personal gratification or street politics. If the committee enjoys no legal provisions to decide on Mannetti’s fate, then they should leave that for the incoming leadership. Finish and klaar! Allow me to close off with the words of the great Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”