29 Jan 2018 09:50am
By Hesron Kapanga
CASABLANCA, 29 JAN (NAMPA) - Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti says Namibia can compete against the best in Africa if its top clubs participate regularly in Confederation of African Football (CAF) club competitions.
The CAF Champions League, an annual continental club football competition which the top club sides from Africa's football leagues compete in, is one of the two competitions hosted by CAF.
The other is the Confederation Cup, which sees clubs who win their countries football association cups, compete.
Speaking during a media conference in Casablanca on Sunday after his team lost its quarter-final match against Morocco, Mannetti said it is very difficult for teams who do not have Champions League experience to compete at the same level as those who do.
If we had clubs competing in CAF club competitions the quality of football for our national team will improve. It's very clear when you look at the levels and individual qualities that we had to play against at the competition - Uganda, Ivory Coast and Morocco, he said.
Wydad Casablanca of Morocco are the current CAF Champions League champions. They secured their second trophy in the competition when they defeated Al Ahly Sporting Club of Egypt in the 2017 final.
On Sunday, the Moroccan team that played against Namibia had five players in their starting line-up who play for Wydad Casablanca.
Mannetti said these players helped to make the team stronger than the Brave Warriors.
He further said Zambia also showed that the quality of their football was very different to that of Namibia because they are exposed to continental club football. The coach stated that if the Namibian national team is to compete against the best on the continent, the countrys top clubs should start qualifying for the champions' league group stages instead of getting knocked out in the preliminary rounds.
We hardly played in the Champions League in the past 10 years and the times we did, our clubs got kicked out early. If we play Champions League football it will help improve with the quality of our football at national team level, he said.
Mannetti also said his biggest hope at the moment is that the Namibia Premier League continues.
We are now two or three months into our league and I would like to call on the sponsors and league administrators to continue having the league as it will help keep our players active instead of them just being at home, which will make it difficult for them to compete against other teams, he said.
The last time a Namibian football club competed in a CAF competition was in 2014, when Black Africa played and lost against Kaizer Chiefs from South Africa in the Champions League, while African Stars also played and lost against Petro Atletico of Angola in the CAF Confederation Cup, in the preliminary rounds.