In spite of their worst possible start in the Africa Gold Cup against Ivory Coast on Saturday, local rugby pundits believe Namibia can come back strong on Wednesday when they take on Madagascar in Abidjan.
The Welwitschias, who are ranked 25th in the world, went down 24-13 in their opening match of Pool A in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast.
The tournament is a Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier.
Namibia now must beat Madagascar on Wednesday, or they will fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1995.
Reacting to the defeat yesterday, Unam Rugby Club head coach Johan Diergaardt said lack of preparation has caused Namibia’s poor performance against Ivory Coast, who are ranked 42nd in the world.
“It was in our best interest to turn the game in our favour against the better Ivory Coast side. I believe lack of proper preparation ahead of this tournament had an impact on our performance,” said the former Welwitschias gaffer.
He, however, said heading forward, the team is capable of turning things around against Madagascar, who are ranked 51st.
“We have all the great players in the team, including a well-experienced coach heading the team. So, we can easily win the next game if we can step up our performance and focus on winning. We have players who played at the world cup before. I think there is enough depth in the squad to grab victory on Wednesday,” he added.
Meanwhile, Western Suburbs’ coach Jacky Bock said the team will need to make difficult decisions, heading forward.
“It was a difficult game on Saturday, but the other team was stronger than us. We need to make difficult decisions in the team to make sure Namibia win on Wednesday. I believe we have enough talent in the team who can guide us to great performances during the week,” he said.
Ivory Coast won with three converted tries and a penalty, all scored before halftime.
Namibia’s tally was made up of a penalty and two tries, which were not converted.
It was Namibia’s first match under new coach, Allister Coetzee.