14 Nov 2018 16:00pm
WINDHOEK, 14 NOV (NAMPA) National Under-23 football coach Ronny Kanalelo said the withdrawal of his squad from the African Qualifiers of the 2020 Olympics in Japan is a missed opportunity to test the team against the continents best.
He was speaking to Nampa on Tuesday following the announcement by the Namibia Football Association (NFA) that the qualifying match between Namibia and Angola in Luanda has officially been cancelled.
The game was scheduled for Friday in Luanda before Namibia hosts Angola in Windhoek on 20 November 2018.
This was confirmed by NFA secretary general Barry Rukoro, who said lack of financial resources was the reason for the withdrawal.
Kanalelo acknowledged that as coach there was nothing he could do because if there is no money, there is no money.
We wanted to expose the team to higher level competition as they are closer to the senior team. The political fights played a big role in this, we have one fighting for you to play football while the other doesnt want you to play football, this time the one who doesnt want us to play, won, he said.
NFA officials earlier passed the blame over who was responsible for the withdrawal of the team.
Rukoro alleged that the International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) had made the funds available for these matches, but NFA President Frans Mbidi allegedly refused to sign for its release.
Mbidi however distanced himself from the accusations, saying he was removed by the NFA executive committee.
Kanalelo said the team had been in camp for three weeks and had shown the hunger and desire to play continental football.
Team manager Someno Erastus said the withdrawal was a situation beyond their control, adding that it was very disappointing.
Some of the players were crying as this was an opportunity for them to compete with the best in the competition. These boys had made a promise of making history and making their country proud by qualifying for the tournament in Japan, he explained.
Erastus added that during camp, the mood was high, noting the team had given up everything in trying to make history.
The withdrawal of the Under-23 team now means Angola will advance to the second round to face South Africa.