WINDHOEK – Despite being held to an exhilarating goalless draw by the visiting Wild Dogs of Guinea Bissau in Saturday’s 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group K crunch qualifier at the Sam Nujoma Stadium, all hope is not yet lost for the Brave Warriors as chances remain aplenty for Namibia to make a historic third appearance at Africa’s biggest football showpiece.
After pocketing a point each from Saturday’s goalless draw, both Namibia and Guinea Bissau remained top of Group K on eight points apiece, with Guinea Bissau topping the log, thanks to their superior goals gain.
As it stands, Namibia will need to beat Zambia when they lock horns in their last qualifier in March next year, as only a win can secure Namibia a place in Cameroon next year, but a draw for Namibia in the Zambia clash could also be beneficial depending on how the Chipolopolos fare against Mozambique
Zambia and Mozambique were scheduled to meet last night. As of Saturday, both Zambia and Mozambique were still stationed on four points each ahead of their clash on Sunday.
Namibia and Guinea Bissau crossed swords at a fully-packed Sam Nujoma Stadium and produced a tantalising encounter with so much goalmouth action that eventually ended goalless.
Petrus Shitembi did everything right only to see his shot from outside the box come of the upright and across the face of goal on two minutes of the match, and a minute later Gebhardt Ananias saw his header come off the cross bar, before Guinea Bissau settled in.
Namibia that continued to press for more chances and then on 19 minutes Toni Silva ran down the right for Bissau and his fierce shot was parried over by Virgil Vries. Captain Luis Mendes had a chance from a free kick on 27 minutes and went for goal with Vries making an easy save with towering Sory Mane and Frederic Mendy lagging.
Peter Shalulile thought he scored on 28 minutes as he ran onto a through ball down the left, cutting inside before unleashing a shot that just went wide. Mendy then should have scored from Bissau but his shot from 10 metres out was saved with a palm by the ever-alert Vries.
Ananias then met a Willy Stephanus corner kick on 39 minutes, heading it back into the goalmouth, before it was cleared by Pele Gomes.
In the second half Namibia were first out the blocks yet again as Shalulile headed wide off a Shitembi cross on 46 minutes and then a brilliant combination play by Deon Hotto and Shitembi was agonisingly finished off by Hendrick Somaeb as he shot straight at Jonas Mendes in the Bissau goal.
Shalulile should have scored for Namibia on 50 minutes as he beat the offside, left his marker and with Mendes in goal approaching, fumbled the ball and Mendes got the ball off him and in the ensuing melee Somaeb over-head kick was cleared off the line yet again.
Mendy then had a chance in added time but was thwarted by the near post by Vries while substitute Muna Katupose nearly won it for the host only for his header to be claimed by Mendes.
After the match both coaches were satisfied with a point an apiece and looking forward to final match day in March 2019 when Namibia visits Zambia and Bissau host Mozambique.
“We will take the point and look at the last game to make sure we qualify. We are disappointed with the result today after so many chances, football had other ideas. We did not know we could have so many chances and we should credit the boys. We still have a chance to qualify,” says Mannetti.
“Namibia is a good team and they showed in the first match we won last year and we came here prepared. We wait for Mozambique and we must win, final game, anything is possible,” states coach Baciro Cande.
The group winner and the runner-up will qualify for the 32nd edition of the Total African Cup of Nations to be played in Cameroon from 15 June to 13 July 2019.