Former Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti recently sat down with New Era for a candid interview, in which spoke at great length on a variety of issues, including the hot topic of his employment contract, if he is still head coach of the national team and other related matters affecting Namibian football.
NE: First and foremost, tell us are you no longer head coach of the Brave Warriors?
RM: Well, my contract ended on 31 July and I know everyone is curious as to what will happen. But that question can be answered by the Normalisation Committee of the Namibia Football Association (NFA). I heard the position will be advertised and we are all waiting as to when the position will be advertised.
NE: And what has been the word from their [NFA] side, have there been any courtesy from the side of the NFA to say look, this is the way forward and so on?
RM: I had some casual small talks with the vice-chairman of the Normalisation Committee, Franco Cosmos, and his indication was that the NFA will send me a formal letter wherein they will outline their decision as far as my situation is concerned. I don’t know what will be in that letter but I’m also yet to receive it, maybe they will still send it to me … naturally, as the person who was in that position, I expected them to engage me as first option but the Normalisation Committee said they wanted to do things transparently by advertising the position to all interested parties and give all a chance to apply, which is something that I understand and respect. So I now await the position to be advertised and see what my decision will be.
NE: Obviously there is a bit of instability in local football, especially at the NFA which is currently under the leadership of the Fifa-appointed Normalisation Committee, and an elective congress also appears to be as forthcoming as expected. Do you think the lack of leadership at the NFA could be the cause of the uncertainty as far as appointing the head coach is concerned? Because it seems nobody is ready to make decisions, could that be the case?
RM: I think at the moment it is trying times for Namibian football and it’s not actually something new; we had a similar situation some time back when we didn’t have league football and that was the darkest period of our football. But the Normalisation Committee is here now and trying to normalise things but there is a lot of uncertainty, especially in this election year [upcoming NFA elective congress]. And also, for people that are going to apply for the coaching job, they will need certainty as to who is in charge and what not, so the Normalisation Committee needs to work on that and make sure people apply for the job.
NE: Still speaking of instability, the Brave Warriors are faced with serious qualifiers such as the African Nations Champions (CHAN), the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and so forth, and this also means people want to know the actual direction of the national team as far as all these important competitions are concerned. Do you wish the issue of the head coach position could be resolved as fast as possible?
RM: I think our current interim coach Bobby Samaria is doing a fantastic job, we just performed well in the ongoing CHAN qualifiers beating Comoros and we are now in the next round, where will be facing Madagascar and we also heard a few weeks ago that we will be facing Eritrea in the World Cup preliminaries and I have also heard that for those games, the Brave Warriors could still be under an interim coach. So whether it will still be Samaria or another coach, I don’t know.
NE: You are possibly one of the greatest, if not the greatest, football coach to have ever come out of Namibia. You have won us the Cosafa Cup, you took us to CHAN and now more recently to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt and in Namibian terms, one could say you have really come full circle as far as your career. You still think you have more to offer to this team?
RM: Right now I think the weather conditions in local football have taken the front seat and I haven’t thought of it that far, but of course any football coach will tell you that I have it in me to take football further and improve. But personally speaking, at times I speak to myself and say maybe I have done enough and have come full circle, it’s time to contribute to football in a different capacity. But at other times, as a personwho breathes and sleeps football, I say to myself that I still have it in me and can still take it further. But for now I will not close any doors to future opportunities because I believe I can still contribute to the team in so many ways, not just as a coach.
NE: Again, if the position is advertised, will you seriously consider to reapply for the job?
RM: As I said, I will take time to think deep before I decide if I really want to give it another shot or not, but for now, let’s wait and see what I will decide when the time comes or when they [NFA] hopefully advertise the job.
*Note: Catch part two of this extensive interview next Friday, as Mannetti talks more about the quality of Namibian football, what needs to be done for the Brave Warriors to catch up with the rest of Africa and a whole lot of other issues.