World Cup a far-fetched dream for Namibia

In order to ever qualify for the World Cup, the whole leadership structure of Namibian football, as well as the infrastructure, need a complete overhaul, some experts in the field say.

14 October 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMI

WINDHOEK

Namibia’s miserable performance in Group H of the Fifa World Cup has left fans frustrated, with many pointing fingers at the football leadership, structures and non-existent plans to make any impact in international football.

These are the sentiments of the likes of former Brave Warriors players and coaches Ronnie Kanalelo, Collin Benjamin and Woody Jacobs.

These remarks come after the Warriors miserably failed to make any sort of impact in Group H of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, going down 4-0 in the first leg, and again faltering 4-1 in the second leg against Senegal and throwing their chances of qualifying with two matches left to play.

Namibia have never made it to the shores of the football World Cup. The highest competition the Warriors have been to is the Africa Cup of Nations in 1998, 2010 and 2019.

Kanalelo, a former goalkeeper and coach of the national senior side, did not mince his words and said that Namibia needs proper club structures and football concepts.

“We need people who know what a real football player looks like and the stepping stones which lead to the final destination,” he said.

Benjamin, a former player and coach, on the other hand said that it is arrogant and disrespectful to talk about the World Cup.

“What has Namibia prepared to have the liberty of talking about reaching the World Cup now?” he said.

Asked why he thinks the football leadership doesn’t recognise his expertise to propel the team forward, Benjamin responded: “An expert will expose your shortcomings. Why bring in an expert?”

Jacobs, a former assistant coach of the team who currently heads the Brave Gladiators, said Namibia has some quality players with experience who are playing in good leagues.

“But being in the same group as Senegal, Algeria, Mali Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco and Guinea is difficult. They have more quality than what we have. And it was the case in the two matches against Senegal, where Namibia had some good chances but didn't convert them, while Senegal just took every single chance they created.

“We were not outplayed entirely, but the fine margins played a decisive role and it just shows that to be able to compete with those powerhouses that have close to 5 000 professionals to choose from, it's always going to be hard.”

He added, however, that Namibia possesses the surprise factor and with meticulous planning, analysis and execution, the big guns can be unsettled.

Jacobs further emphasised that the next generation of players like Prince Tjiueza, Lubeni Haukongo, Steven Damaseb, Kamanjanda Ndisiro and Kennedy Amutenya need to start playing Cosafa and Chan competitions.

“If I could, I would give them a chance in the remaining two matches against Congo and Togo. Some players are ageing and it's time for some new blood and exposure at this level.

“I’m saying this against the background of my experience with the Gladiators where you also have players that have played for quite some time, but it's time to introduce new blood into the team even if it means that we will get hidings.

“We need to start exposing promising players to international competition early on; it’s the only way we can grow. I’m not saying that we need a total overhaul of the team, but there are some of the players who are nearing the end of their international careers while others are in their prime, and we need to create that balance early on,” concluded Jacobs.

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