Warriors face tough task to clip Eagles’ wings … as Benjamin attributes draw to player inexperience

Home National Warriors face tough task to clip Eagles’ wings … as Benjamin attributes draw to player inexperience
Warriors face tough task to clip Eagles’ wings … as Benjamin attributes draw to player inexperience

The Brave Warriors of Namibia face a daunting challenge on Sunday as they take on the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in a Group H Fifa World Cup Africa qualifying match at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa at 18h00.

A youthful Namibian side struggled against Liberia on Wednesday night at the same venue, managing a 1-1 draw. 

Tjipee Karuuombe made a surging run from deep in the midfield to get onto a delightful chip from Ben Namib to steer home the ball after only eight minutes of play.

It was a cleverly-crafted goal that held out high hopes that Namibia would go onto a comfortable win, but they wilted under a tough physical approach by the West Africans, whose use of long throw-ins caused all sorts of havoc for the Namibian defence. 

Terry Sackor equalised for Liberia in the 65th minute, leaving Namibia with shared spoils.

Head coach Collin Benjamin acknowledged the difficulty of their upcoming match against group favourites Tunisia, whom he regards as one of the strongest teams in Group H. 

Reflecting on Wednesday’s draw, he expressed disappointment, attributing the result to player inexperience, and the challenge of playing all games away from home.

“The players were supposed to play cleverly and stick to positional play after scoring first. However, they got carried away, kicking the ball forward, and we struggled with that, especially with aerial balls. The second half was particularly tough, with many throw-ins that unsettled us,” Benjamin said in a post-match interview.

He highlighted the struggle of playing all 10 qualifying matches on the road, making World Cup qualification more challenging.

Namibia fielded five young players making their international debuts, balancing the need for results by giving players valuable game time.

The squad is currently in a rebuilding stage, which Benjamin admits will be a long and brutal process. The team is missing key players, including talisman Peter Shalulile, who is out due to injury. 

“We had two or three chances that Shalulile would have scored with his eyes closed. But this is what we must work with,” he noted.

Additionally, Betuel Muzeu picked up an injury ahead of the Liberia match, and England-based defender Ryan Nyambe missed the training camp due to injury rehabilitation. Another senior player, Ananias Gebhardt, quit the national team before the training camp started.

Despite these challenges, Benjamin has not called in reinforcements such as Elmo Kambindu, who has made 23 appearances for the Warriors with eight goals, or midfielder Marcel Papama. 

Tunisia, on the other hand, secured a 1-0 victory against Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday with a late penalty from Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane. This win marked Tunisia’s third victory in as many matches in Group H, putting them at the top of the log standings with nine points.-lmupetami@nepc.com.na