The draw for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals will take place today in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where the Brave Warriors will learn their fate as they return to the continent’s top football competition.
Namibia finds itself in Pot 4, alongside Guinea, Angola, the Gambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, setting the stage for a daunting group that may feature two of Africa’s top 12 ranked teams. Only the top two teams in each of the six groups and the four best-performing third-placed teams will progress to the round of 16.
Various local football pundits and fans have expressed confidence in the men’s national football team’s chances at the Afcon, saying the team has proven itself and qualifies to face any opponent.
New Era Sports took to the streets yesterday to engage various football fans and pundits on their thoughts about today’s draw.
Former Brave Warriors and Black Africa head coach Brian Isaacs said it is difficult to predict whom Namibia would be drawn against, but he expects the Warriors to be placed in a group with one of the toughest teams on the continent.
“It’s difficult to say whom Namibia will be drawn against because, during the draw, any team can be chosen. But in my view, the boys have proven themselves worthy of playing in the Afcon, especially when we beat Cameroon in our qualifiers, which was a significant statement,” he said.
Regarding their chances, the 55-year-old coach said, “We have done tremendously well in our quest to qualify for next year’s tournament, and the team showed maturity throughout the process. So, I would say that we are capable of causing upsets at the tournament, and we can face any opponent pitted against us,” he added.
Meanwhile, Carter Ledou, a fan from Cameroon, who has been living in Namibia for ten years, expects the Warriors to be placed in a challenging group, which will test their abilities, adding that Namibia earned its place amongst the elite.
“Looking at the team’s journey to qualification, I was impressed, especially when they defeated and drew against Cameroon, who were also fresh from the World Cup in Qatar. The team is in great shape, and every player on the team has shown a willingness to work together for the country and achieve results. From that, I can say Namibia has proven they can compete with any team at any given time,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Brave Warriors head coach, Collin Benjamin, recently told Nampa they should not worry about their opponents but instead focus on their preparations for the much-anticipated continental competition.
“With good preparation, I believe the team can perform better. It’s essential not to worry about whom we are drawn against but instead to focus on preparation,” he said, emphasising the need for sufficient funds to be allocated for the national team to prepare adequately for the competition.
Benjamin added that finding suitable locations for training and camping is a current priority.
“With a budget at our disposal, the team will decide on the best location for the camp. With better preparation, we can perform better than in the previous editions of the tournament,” he stated.
The 24 teams that have qualified for the 2023 AFCON finals are Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire (hosts), DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal (title holders), South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia.
The Warriors qualified for the continental showpiece after finishing second in Group C with five points – behind Cameroon, who finished with seven points to successfully book their spot at next year’s competition.
Global music star Akon will host the final draw, which will be beamed in over 50 countries, with millions of viewers expected to tune in to the event on Caf’s official YouTube channel as well as across Caf’s Global TV partners.