Lady luck smiles on outsmarted, outmuscled Brave Warriors…Guinea-Bissau ‘devenomise’ Mambas to rescue Namibia
WINDHOEK – The Namibian senior football team the Brave Warriors were left licking their wounds after an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Zambia in their decisive Group-K African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier in Lusaka on Saturday.
Despite the heavy defeat, the Brave Warriors managed to slip through the back door to qualify for the continental showpiece – all thanks to Guinea Bissau’s 2-all draw against the Mozambican Mambas in Bissau.
An out of sorts Warriors outfit looked dead and buried going into the referee’s optional time trailing the hosts 1-4 in a dead rubber match against the resurgent Zambians.
And when the match referee blew his final whistle, the players sank to their knees trying to bury their heads in the turf and one could clearly hear the sound of a needle dropping on the floor as muteness set in.
All of a sudden pandemonium broke out as the red and white-clad small army of Namibian supporters that accompanied the team to Lusaka erupted in joy and ecstasy, as news came through the loud speakers that Mozambique were held to a 2-all draw by Guinea Bissau – a result that meant Namibia had earned her place in Egypt as they boasted a better head-to-head record over Mozambique.
The visitors started off sluggishly and found themselves on the back foot after conceding an early goal in the opening minutes. The goal inspired the hosts as they moved into second gear leaving the bemused Namibians chasing shadows.
On a rare foray, the visitors almost pulled a goal back but the usually clinical Deon Hotto directed his shot at the upright with the goal at his mercy after some good work from the left flank which resulted from a quick counter attack.
Coach Ricardo Mannetti withdrew striker Benson Shilongo at the resumption throwing in Muna Katupose to boost an otherwise invincible attack but the move had little effect as the Zambians controlled the proceedings, bossing the midfield play with relative ease and it came as no surprise when they stretched their slender lead to 2-0 when Mwape Musonda won an aerial battle to knock the ball down into the danger area, and Donashano Malama arrived to fire home from close range.
Lanky striker Peter Shalulile thought he had drew level with a glancing header from Willy Stephanus’s inviting cross but the goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside – much to the chagrin of Mannetti.
Warriors’ stand-in shot stopper Max Mbaeva had a day he would prefer to forget very quickly as he was found wanting in a disorganised defence line that leaked four goals without making serious attempts to prevent them.
The ever present Shalulile pulled a consolation goal back for the visitors but it was too little too late as the writing was already on the wall, as the hosts cruised to a comfortable 4-1 victory.
In his post-match interview, Mannetti was gracious in defeat admitting Zambia used their superior skills to beat his team.
“We did not play badly at all. We just lost to a better quality side and had someone told me that we will lose 4-1 against a very good Zambian team and still qualify, I would have not believed you. This was one of our best performances, football-wise. The Zambians were very clinical in how they approached the 18-yard box,” he added.
Despite the embarrassing defeat, the former Santos midfield general promised the team will be better at Afcon, adding that the team had issues to resolve during the past week prior to the match, which he did not divulge. Mannetti further pointed out that despite the current situation of football in Namibia including the intervention by Fifa, he was happy that those factors did not stop his team from making it.
Namibia will be making her third appearance at the continental showpiece after qualification in Burkina Faso (1998) and Ghana (2008).
- Additional info: Nampa
2019-03-25 09:34:39 4 months ago