Namibia’s Brave Warriors turned on the heat against Mozambique as they dominated proceedings for most of the match in their CHAN qualifier on Saturday, but their loss in a penalty shoot-out, seem not to deter many fans who described the performance as encouraging for the future.
A few fans The Villager spoke and the ones who took to social networks sounded rather optimistic about the future of the team.
One such fan is ardent Warriors supporter Silva Newaka who simply said: “Gutsy performance by the boys, it was a mammoth task but they tried. We are proud of you. To the coach Ricardo Mannetti, u are learning with each game.”
Former Brave Warriors midfield maestro, Lolo Goraseb, says the Class of 2013 emulated the Class of 98 by turning around a 3-0 deficit, equalizing in style and just to lose painfully with a single goal. Truly Brave performance...was great to relive all the emotions and such a moment, ironically led by the two Class of 98 legends (Mannetti and Ronnie Kanalelo) and supported by the vocal fans.”
Another, Elifas Heita says: “Well done boys, that was a brave performance indeed, especially in the second half. I said it before and I will says its again. This team is on the right track, let’s just be patient, optimistic and patriotic.”
Despite the defeat, Warriors coach, Ricardo Mannetti was in high spirits.
Speaking after the match, the coach said he was extremely proud of his players.
“I doubted whether we could come back. Even though we lost the tie, I dedicate the win on the night to my players and the fans who came out to support us. It was remarkable to score three goals in one half, and were it not for lack of composure in the final third, we could have scored a fourth,” said Mannetti.
He says Mozambique beat them at their own game plan in Maputo, but this time around it was Namibia who beat them at theirs.
Mannetti explained that he was encouraged by the individual performances of the local- based players and said it would only mean competition for the foreign-based players who cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
“The competition is great for the team as a whole. The players who played tonight showed great character and will definitely push the players playing in foreign leagues,” he says.
He added that the team needs more time to become even stronger, and appealed to the supporters to be patient.
Next up for the Brave Warriors is a World Cup qualifier match away to Nigeria on 7 September and Mannetti says the team will pick up from there.
Namibia crashed out of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers after losing 4-5 on penalties.
The side was already trailing 3-0 to Mozambique on aggregate before the match kicked off, subsequent of a defeat in the first leg of the match which took place in Maputo last week on 28 July 2013.
The match started brightly enough for the hosts. They maintained possession for almost the entire first half, and put continuous pressure on Mozambique.
It was such that Brave Warriors centre-back and captain Da Costa Angula spent most of that time in Mozambique’s half of the field.
Despite this, the first half concluded with no goals for either side thanks to solid and sometimes unrestrained defending by ‘Os Mambas.’
Namibia struck first blood however almost as soon as the second half commenced after brilliant work on the left flank by Deon Hotto resulted in a goal for Riaan Cloete.
The Brave Warriors piled on the pressure, but the visitors who had a two goal cushion to fall onto, began to resort to unprofessional antics, such as time wasting and diving, which eventually caused them a red card in the 75th minute.
With only five minutes left on the clock, second half substitute, Roger Katjiteo, scored a crucial goal to make local supporters in the stadium start to believe the aggregate score could be levelled.
This was confirmed in the dying seconds of injury time with another brilliant goal from Katjiteo.
The goal sent Namibian spectators into a frenzy and they soon began to chant Mannetti’s name. The match ended 3-0 to Namibia to go into penalties.
The Warriors lost the nail biting penalty-shootout, 4-5, to end their pursuit of a place in the CHAN finals to be held in South Africa next year.