Namibia’s Young Warriors will take no prisoners tonight when they make their maiden appearance at the 2021 U/20 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) against the Central African Republic (CAR) in Mauritania.
Namibia is in Group B alongside Burkina Faso, Tunisia and CAR, and will see only the top two teams from each of the three groups and the two best-placed runners-up advancing to the quarterfinals of the continental youth tournament.
Speaking to the Namibia Football Association (NFA) media desk yesterday, Young Warriors stand-in captain Edmar Kamatuka said preparations went according to plan and the team is ready to kick off its maiden U/20 Afcon campaign against CAR. Kamatuka is standing for regular captain Steven Damaseb, who will not feature tonight due to injury.
“Obviously, we are perceived as the underdogs in our group even though two other countries are making their debuts as well, but if they underestimate us, it will be at their own risk because we are ready and prepared well to go out there and make a name for ourselves. Mentally, we are in a good space and we know what is at stake going into this tournament. We know how hard we had to fight at last year’s Cosafa U/20 Cup in order to get here and we will not take that for granted. We will be facing big countries but we won’t give them respect on the pitch; it’s an eleven-a-side match and we have our own objectives in this tournament. We will do our best and send a clear message out to others in our group,” said a confident Kamatuka.
Damaseb is joined on the injury list by defender Tuli-Baggio Nashixua and midfielder Pitsi Ameb but Warriors head coach James Britz is confident the medical team will take care of the injuries just well in time for the second group match.
The team arrived in Mauritania last week and have been hard at work training since their arrival that side. On Thursday, they played in a friendly match against Mauritania’s senior team, which ended in a 1-all draw and Kamatuka reckons all is set for the opening game.
After tonight’s match against CAR, Namibia will face Tunisia on Thursday, 18 February, before confronting Burkina Faso in their last group match on Sunday, 21 February.