Local football pundits yesterday reacted with mixed emotions to the draw of the 2021 Cosafa Cup, which saw Namibia’s Brave Warriors being drawn in Group C alongside regional rivals Zimbabwe, Mozambique and tournament guest participants, Senegal.
The draw for the 2021 Cosafa Cup, which starts next month in South Africa, took place yesterday in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa and saw a total of 12 teams being divided into three groups of four teams each. The regional tournament starts on 7 July and runs until 18 July.
Hosts nation South Africa are in Group A with Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana. Group B comprises Zambia, Malawi, Madagascar and Comoros.
Reacting to the Warriors’ opponents, veteran gaffer Woody Jacobs said Namibia will be faced with an uphill battle against the likes of Senegal and Zimbabwe, but was however positive that the Warriors stand a good chance of overcoming the Mambas of Mozambique.
“It’s really a tough group and one only hopes that Senegal sends their second stringers, as that will give us a chance, but if they send their top guns for Cosafa, it will be a huge battle for our boys. As for Zimbabwe, they have grown in leaps and bounds, as their record at this tournament speaks for itself, but we have to go there and put up a good fight. Mozambique has been one team that we have always managed to collect points against, so I just hope we continue on that path,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs, who currently mentors Dolam-outfit Orlando Pirates FC in the Namibia Premier Football League (NPFL), however, expressed concern with the ongoing ban of contact sports countrywide, including football, saying the situation might partly affect the team’s performance as local players have been out of action for some weeks now.
“For almost the third week running now, players have been out of action since the transitional season came to a standstill due to Covid-19 restrictions, but Namibia has always found its way around such situations, and I believe for the upcoming Cosafa Cup, it will be no different. I can only wish the boys and the entire technical staff all the best of luck going into this very important regional competition.”
Brave Warriors great Robert Nauseb echoed Jacobs’ sentiments, saying it is not an easy group, but insisted the Warriors should go to South Africa and fight for their place at the tournament with pride and determination.
“Obviously, facing Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Senegal will not be an easy ride. They are very tough teams but we have to go there to compete and create our own chances. We have to go there with a mindset of wanting to proceed to the next round and that should start with winning the first game because from thereon, the lads will definitely be motivated and would want to do better in the other games. Let’s go there and compete, we have the potential,” said the retired Kaizer Chiefs legendary midfielder.
For this year, the competition will take on a new format, with the 12 teams split into three groups each containing four teams. This is to ensure each side plays a minimum of three matches. The top team in each pool, as well as the best second-place finisher, will advance to the semifinals. There will be no Plate competition this year.
The 19 previous editions of the regional competition have seen some great performances that have been written into the folklore of southern African football, but only five nations have lifted the coveted trophy: Zimbabwe (six wins), followed by Zambia (five), South Africa (four), Angola (three) and Namibia (one).