Namibians got a rude awakening in international football that if you don’t take the few goal-scoring chances created you are likely going to pay heavily for missing gilt-edged goal-scoring opportunities.
Like I wrote in my weekly column last week, we need to punish teams when playing at home to collect maximum points but our team played like visitors, defending too deep for my liking.
The result leaves us with a Mount Kilimanjaro to scale with four matches left for a place in Africa’s biggest sporting showpiece, the 2019 AFCON finals in Cameroon, next year.
With matches coming in thick and fast against joint Group K leaders Guinea Bissau and Mozambique, home and away – we can no longer afford to donate points in the manner we did against Zambia, a team that looked dead and buried, only to concede a silly goal in the dying minutes of the match.
Overall, my observation is that our boys displayed guts but for some strange reason, demonstrated hopelessly too much respect for the Chipolopolo. Well, it’s not over until the fat lady sings and with 12 points still at stake, the boys can still qualify if history is anything to by.
Since our maiden appearance at the continental showpiece in Burkina Faso (1998) and Ghana ten years later (2008) – our lucky circle states that Namibia will be in Cameroon come next year.
Now, let me make a quick analysis of our players’ match ratings: Virgil Vries (9) the dreadlocked goalie barely set a foot wrong during the entire 90 minutes and cannot be blamed for the last-minute goal as he was badly exposed by a disorganized wall. Larry Horaeb (6) the much travelled veteran ran his lungs out but was often found wanting for pace.
Seun Haoseb (7) the former Black Africa versatile defender has matured like good old wine and marshalled the defence quite well. Tebs Lombard (6) the goatee-bearded football-playing centre back was solid in defence but was often found wanting for pace. Junior Gebhardt (6) had an average game by his own standards and was at fault for the free kick that led to the equalizer (1-1) when he recklessly committed a foul in a sensitive area.
Riaan Hanamub (6) the former Touch & Go fullback made a couple of good forays but needs to work on his crosses. Stigga Ketjijere (8) like Vries, the inspirational skipper, played with confidence trying hard to control the tempo of the match in a largely congested midfield but he needs to attack space with his customary long passing game.
Wangu Gome (8) the pocket-size midfielder was his usual self, covering each and every blade of grass on the pitch though his final pass often let him down. Petrus Shitembi (9), doubtlessly Namibia’s best outfield player on the day, played with assured authority in an extremely over-crowded midfield with very little room to manouvre. Awilo Stephanus (6) appeared a bit rusty but played out of his favourite position at wingback.
Defence has never been his strength and the usually cool as a cucumber playmaker was guilty of making wrong decisions – too casual at times. Sadney Uri-Khob (6) tried very hard to impress but was hopelessly isolated fighting a lone battle upfront against a well-organized Zambian rearguard.
Benson Shilongo (7) “Styles” is a proven goal scorer and his entrance lifted the spirits of his tiring teammates. Ballack Somaeb (8) completely changed the complex of the match, putting pressure on the Zambian defence with his pace ands amazing ball control. Charles Hambira does not warrant a rating as he came on too late with the match almost over. I rest my case.