Injury gamble for Warriors

Brave Warriors coach Riccardo Mannetti is keeping his fingers crossed in the hope that none of his players will pick up injuries this coming weekend.

12 March 2019 | Sports

Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti says he will not prohibit national team players from playing in the Standard Bank Top 8 Cup this weekend, despite the possibility of them picking up injuries.

Some of Mannetti's trusted players are expected to represent their local clubs in the semi-finals of the Top 8 competition, which involves Tura Magic, African Stars, Tigers and Black Africa.

They will be required to regroup and return to the national camp on Sunday.

The worry for many in football circles is that the players could be injured ahead of Namibia's last Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier slated for 23 March against Zambia.

Treasure Kauapirura, Ivan Kamberipa, Ronald Ketjijere from African Stars are all likely to play in the cup competition at the weekend.

Vitapi Ngaruka, Immanuel Heita and Dynamo Fredericks (Black Africa), Charles Hambira (Tura Magic), and Absalom Iimbondi and Muna Katupose (Tigers), are also expected to play for their respective clubs.

“The clubs have cooperated thus far and we do have all the players, but this is obviously a big weekend for local football.

“The fact that this weekend is not a Fifa date means that I cannot decide on the players.

“We will make provision for the players that are part of the Top 8 in order for them to have a session or two with us and also with their clubs,” Mannetti said.

He admitted he is worried about the players, given the few days they will have to recover if they pick up any niggles during the Top 8 eight clashes.

Mannetti added those who ply their trade outside the country will also be in action this coming weekend.

“There is obviously a risk of injuries for the local players, but we should also know that the outside players are also still playing and we will only get them from Sunday.

“So it is an all-round risk, which is part of football and there is not much I can do about it.

“I just have to hope and pray that no one gets injured and that we have a full squad on Sunday when we regroup,” Mannetti added.

The Brave Warriors' road to Egypt, where the 2019 Afcon finals will be hosted, started with a match against Guinea-Bissau early last year, which they lost 0-1 away. They went on to host Zambia's national team, Chipolopolo, holding them to a 1-1 draw, and moved on to defeat Mozambique at home and away before drawing 0-0 with Guinea-Bissau.

Namibia can qualify for the 2019 Afcon finals if they avoid defeat to Zambia or they lose to Zambia and Mozambique loses to Guinea-Bissau or they lose to Zambia and Mozambique draw against Guinea-Bissau, as the Warriors have better head-to-head record against Mozambique.

Guinea-Bissau and Namibia are at the top of Group K on eight points each, with Mozambique in third place on seven points. Zambia, on four points, are out of the race for Egypt 2019. The group winners and the runners-up will qualify for the 32nd edition of the Total African Cup of Nations, to be played in Egypt from 21 June to 19 July.

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa

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