WINDHOEK – A 50th minute effort by industrious striker Peter Shalulile and an own goal by Eritrea’s Essey Tesfai yesterday proved enough for the Brave Warriors of Namibia to overpower a stubborn Eritrean side 2-1 in the 1st leg of their 2022 World Cup preliminary round qualifiers away in Asmara.
Shalulile, who captained the side yesterday, was again the hero when he opened Namibia’s account in the 50th minute for 1-0 lead just after halftime. The Brave Warriors doubled their lead six minutes later when Tesfai cleared the ball into his own net to put the home side at a 2-0 disadvantage.
But it was not yet over for the Red Sea Camels of Eritrea, as they kept fighting and coming forward in search of a miraculous comeback, and their efforts paid off when Ali Suleiman pounced on a loose ball in the Namibian box to put Eritrea 2-1 in touching distance of the visitors in the 65th minute.
An inspired Eritrean side kept coming forward and had a few great chances of pulling a surprise draw against the favourite visitors, but the Namibian defense firmly held on and eventually secured a hard-fought but important 2-1 victory away from home, which puts them in a great position ahead of the 2nd leg next week.
The reserve leg of their qualifiers is slated for the Sam Nujoma Stadium next Tuesday, where interim coach Bobby Samaria and his charges will be expected to keep their foot on the gas by securing a win if Namibia is to progress to the next phase of the World Cup qualifiers.
Continentally, Eritrea are considered football minnows as they are ranked last in Africa and 202 in the world, and have never qualified for Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) or the World Cup finals. But yesterday’s performance against Namibia was a clear reminder to Samaria not to underestimate them nor read too much into their ranking position. The Brave Warriors are currently ranked 30th in Africa and 121 in the world.
The World Cup qualification process is aimed at reducing the large field of countries from 211 to just 32 for the World Cup finals. Qualifying tournaments are held within the six Fifa continental zones (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, Europe), and are organized by their respective confederations.
For each tournament, Fifa decides beforehand the number of places in the finals allocated to each of the continental zones, based on the numbers or relative strength of the confederations’ teams. The hosts of the World Cup receive an automatic berth.
Unlike many other sports, results of the previous World Cups or of the continental championships are not taken into account. Until 2002, the defending champions also received an automatic berth, but starting from the 2006 World Cup this has no longer been the case. The current qualification process in the ongoing 2022 World Cup qualification commenced this year and finishes in 2022.
2019-09-05 07:43:09 18 days ago