Brave Warriors in death zone
The Brave Warriors have once again been thrown in the lion’s den as they face Africa’s most lethal teams in group D at the Africa Cup of Nations.
15 April 2019 | Sports
Brave Warriors coach Riccardo Mannetti says the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations draw turned out as he expected it to and he welcomes the challenge.
Namibia was pitted against Côte d'Ivoire, South Africa and Morocco in what is called ‘the group of death’ at the Afcon draw held in Egypt on Friday.
The Brave Warriors coach felt that it was not only going to be tough for Namibia but all the teams involved in group D, given the talent that will be on display.
“We did not expect an easy draw because there are no small teams anymore in Africa since anyone can surprise you at any given time.
“Yes, the group is tough for us, South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire and Morocco,” Mannetti said.
The competition will be held in Egypt from 21 June to 19 July, with Namibia kicking off their first encounter of the tournament against Morocco on 23 June.
Namibia will play their second match of the tournament against neighbours South Africa on 28 June before closing off their group encounters with a match against Côte d'Ivoire on 1 July.
It is no secret that the Brave Warriors will be the underdogs of group D because they are the lowest ranked team in the group.
But Mannetti is optimistic that his side can pull off a huge upset at the tournament even if all the odds are against them.
“We know our place and we know that we are the underdogs of the group and we are not going to be ahead of ourselves.
“The truth is that we will not have unfair expectations from the team but we will concentrate on doing better than we did before.”
The coach felt that the draw provided them with a perfect challenge for a country that goes in the competition as the dark horses of African football.
“I said to other guys that this is a perfect draw for the underdog because this is where the underdog should come out and surprise Africa and the world.”
Namibia seeks its first ever win in the competition after having failed on two occasions in the 1998 and 2008 competition.
Group D is almost a repetition of the 1998 Afcon tournament in Burkina Faso when Namibia was drawn against Côte d'Ivoire, South African, with Angola the only missing team from the parcel and Morocco the team added.
In 1998, Namibia finished at the bottom of the table with only one point from three matches as Côte d'Ivoire and South Africa topped the group.
In 2008, Namibia also finished at the bottom of the group which included Ghana, Guinea and Morocco.
Namibia’s two only points from the Afcon have come at the expense of Angola (1998) and Guinea in (2008).
Cameroon are defending champions after winning the 2017 final against Egypt 2-1, courtesy of goals from Nikolas Nkoulou and Vincent Aboukabar.
Only South Africa (1996), Congo (1968) and Zambia (2012) have been able to bring the trophy to Southern Africa.
There are six groups. The top two teams in each group, along with the four best third-placed teams, will advance to the round of 16.