WINDHOEK – As far as the moral and reputational damage caused by the melee between NFA president Frans Mbidi and estranged secretary general Barry Rukoro is concerned, Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti has assured that the ongoing brouhaha will be water off a duck’s back when Namibia confronts Guinea Bissau tomorrow at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.
Heading into tomorrow’s crunch match against the West African coastal nation, Mannetti remains focused, unfazed and maintains that his charges eyes are firmly fixed on the task at hand, which is to help Namibia secure a historic third appearance at the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals slated for Cameroon next year.
In fact as a build up to tomorrow’s clash, Mannetti has earlier created a hashtag #keepyoureyeontheball, which overwhelmingly well received by all Namibians as it went viral on various social media platforms.
The hashtag is aimed at encouraging Namibians to ignore the ongoing NFA boardroom wrangles between Mbidi and Rukoro, and rather focus on supporting and rallying behind the Brave Warriors as they seek qualification to next year’s Afcon.
“These politics are not a new thing, they have been on going, but when we are not distracted by what’s happening in the boardrooms and as we are keeping our eyes firmly on the ball, the players are doing the same and that’s the beauty of football. I don’t expect complacency. Every player wants to be part of this game and make history. In our last match, we had so much potential on the bench, if a player is to become complacent, the potential on the bench will be his wake up call,” Mannetti assured the nation.
Away from the Mbidi and Rukoro senseless bickering, Mannetti and his charges are tomorrow faced with an unnerving task of overpowering a fast, physical and aerially strong Guinea Bissau side, which defeated Namibia 1-0 in the first leg away last year.
“The most important thing is for the supporters to come through because we will need that extra boost from them. We have to be on top of our game on Saturday against Guinea Bissau. They are a strong side that likes to mix up their game and very good on the ball. They not top of the group by fluke and they did not appear at the last Afcon by surprise, they know their business and we need to respect that and try to handle them and overcome that for our own cause”
If Namibia is to qualify for Cameroon 2019, the Brave Warriors will need to beat the visiting Wild Dogs of Guinea Bissau with a clean score line as conceding any goals in tomorrow’s match will all but dent Namibia’s hopes of booking a place in Cameroon.
Mathematically, Namibia needs to beat the Guinea Bissau with two or more clear goals in order to qualify without having to worry about their last qualifier against Zambia next year.
The two countries (Namibia and Guinea Bissau) are tied atop of Group K, with the Brave Warriors sitting second on the table because the West African side has a better overall head-to-head record.
Guinea Bissau beat Namibia by one goal in January last year, which gave them a better goal difference over Namibia, although both teams are on equal seven points.
On the other hand, Namibia has a better head-to-head record over Mozambique having beaten that country at home and away, and if the Brave Warriors manage to beat Guinea Bissau tomorrow by two or more clear goals and subsequently secure a superior goal difference over Guinea Bissau, Namibia will qualify with the Zambia game to spare.