Stop criticising the national team: Jacobs

22 Jul 2013 03:00
By Timoteus Andreas
WINDHOEK, 22 JUL (NAMPA) - Local coach and football analyst Woody Jacobs has urged Namibians to refrain from being against the performance of the Brave Warriors, and to instead rally behind the national team.
Speaking to Nampa in an interview last week, Jacobs said there are too many critics who are destroying Namibian football, instead of assisting and building the sport in the country for the better.
This news agency approached Jacobs for comment on how he feels the senior national football team performed at the just-ended Council of Southern Africa Football Associations’ (COSAFA) Cup held in Zambia.
The Brave Warriors started the tournament on a high note, recording two group-stage victories by beating Mauritius and Seychelles to emerge as the best team from Group A.
Unfortunately, things turned sour for the Warriors as they were defeated by South Africa in the quarter-finals, as well as Mozambique in their Plate semi-final game, which saw Namibia exit the tournament empty-handed.
According to Jacobs, the team is promising, with young players who need to be given time and to be groomed well. He said it is “just a matter of time before the boys deliver what the nation wants”.
“In Namibia, we tend to put too much pressure on our team, and we want to win from the very beginning. I don’t know what the coaching staffs’ objective was, maybe we wanted to win the COSAFA Cup, which to me was way too much,” he noted.
He added that as a small footballing nation, Namibia needs to draw up objectives which are more realistic, instead of aiming for a win in every competition.
He, however, commended the Warriors for good displays which started from the Nigerian match which ended in a all-one stalemate. That match took place in Windhoek in June, and brought the country’s slim hopes of qualifying for the 2014 International Federation of Football Associations’ (FIFA) World Cup in Brazil to an end.
According to Jacobs, a few minor errors such as using the same squad for four consecutive matches led to the country’s defeats.
“It all started before the COSAFA Cup. We played against Nigeria, and we played really well. They did well beyond expectations, although one would say that when we played some strong opponents like South Africa, we failed to deliver.
But there are some other factors that need to be taken into consideration, such as playing with the same team for all four matches, as well as that against Nigeria, which resulted in fatigue,” he added.
Jacobs further stated that the first two matches at COSAFA were clear victories, and were supposed to be decorated with more goals rather than struggling before facing giants such as South Africa.
“With South Africa, we did well in the first half, but in the second half they punished us because of the way we were defending, and because we could not create chances. To me, that was the real test of character when we played against South Africa. When coming to Mauritius and Seychelles, those were clear wins, and every match was even supposed to result in more goals,” he indicated.
According to Jacobs, the major mistake the team made was to go into the tournament with the wrong objective, that of winning the tournament, which went hand-in-hand with sending out the message to the public that they were coming back with the trophy.
Their failure to deliver on that promise led to public frustration.
He was also of the opinion that making use of some of the foreign-based players was another mistake, and that instead, local players should have been given the opportunity.
“A player like midfield star Petrus Shitembi is one of the best that I can fully recommend, but chances could have been given to other players who don’t play regularly to get international exposure.
Countries like Zambia, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa made use of locally-based players in order to develop their local talent,” said Jacobs, adding that a tournament like COSAFA should be a developmental platform to prepare for something bigger.
He also challenged some critics who targetted Brave Warriors’ goalkeeper Virgil Vries, stressing that he is one of the best goalkeepers the country has.
“Yes, he made mistakes that are still to be fixed, but as young players, we should not kill them with critique. It happens with footballers all over the world, he just had a bad day, which is normal in football,” he argued.
Jacobs also touched on the issue of what many termed ‘selfishness’ amongst some of the players, who did not give clear scoring chances to others who were open, arguing that such things come with experience.
“Players like forward Sadney Urikhob were blamed for the same thing, but this needs skills in order to read and compose themselves, when to give and when not to give a pass.
Like I said, they are not yet at that stage, but with more exposure, they will get there. It is something that one can coach and rectify. Some players even went their individual routes, totally different from the game plan, and missed easy chances. All we need is to pick up the pieces, and carry on with a positive spirit,” he noted.
The Tura Magic coach also commended Brave Warriors’ head coach Ricardo Mannetti, saying he has credibility as a coach and with his experience as a former international footballer and an excellent servant of Namibian football during his time as a player, he will deliver.
“As a coach, he is still young and new in the game. He can learn. I believe he will deliver with support, and in time he will make us happy. Coaching is an ongoing thing, which does not happen overnight. It is not good to demoralise him with critique. Let us rally behind our coach,” he argued.