01 Aug 2019 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 01 AUG (NAMPA) The national under-20 womens football team on Thursday came from a goal behind to oust Mozambique 2-1 in their opening match of the 2019 Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament currently underway in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The Baby Gladiators, as the team is affectionately known, went behind in an uncharacteristic fashion when captain Julia Rutjindo and goalkeeper Meagan Schuster were caught napping, allowing Mozambiques Dulce Lopes to poke in a loose ball in the 24th minute for the opening goal of the match.
Namibia, who were the better team throughout the half, created several chances but failed to utilise them.
Tjamunene Ndjavera twice failed to beat Edenilde Mandlate, in goals for Mozambique, after latching onto through-passes from her teammates in the first 20 minutes.
Veronica April also wasted a chance after being put through by Shanice Daries in the 40th minute, while Sharon Katamila shot weakly at the goalkeeper to leave the match at 1-0 in favour of Mozambique at halftime.
Mervin Mbakera, the Baby Gladiators coach, then brought in Indira Jacobs at halftime for the ineffectual Muhinatjo Hanavi and the move paid dividends as the substitute equalised in the 52nd minute, following a scramble in the 12-yard box when the Mozambique defence failed to clear the ball.
The Baby Gladiators continued to pour forward, playing some neat football and could have taken the lead when Daries free kick sailed over the bar with the goalkeeper beaten.
However, April was not to be denied a goal as she slammed the ball in following a poor clearance of a free kick by Daries in the 59th minute.
Namibia continued to attack but failed to add to their tally and had to defend resolutely in the last 15 minutes as Mozambique poured forward looking for an equaliser.
The match ended 2-1 in favour of Namibia and Katamila was named player of the match.
Speaking after the match, Mbakera bemoaned the wasted chances in the first half, saying the change of strategy in the second half helped them overcome their opponents.
We played good football. Unfortunately, we made a mistake and conceded a goal. We spoke to the girls at halftime and they managed to play well, he said.
Namibias under-20 team next plays South Africa on Saturday in a Group A match, where they will aim to collect maximum points and progress to the semi-finals.