Namibia coach upbeat

Namibia fell-out of the competition after losing 4-2 on penalties against Seychelles. “As long as we create chances, we are not very far,” said coach Ben Bamfuchile. The Brave Warriors squandered numerous chances at goal with most foreign based players being the chief culprits in the 90 minutes of the one-all draw against Seychelles. “On Saturday we were the better team, creating the most chances and that gives me hope for the future,”Bamfuchile told The Southern Times.

The Zambian born coach says he was forced to make “short-cut” changes in the squad, after Turkish based player Razundara Tjikuzu refused to play as a right back. “I am still getting to know these players and when Razy (Tjikuzu) joined camp everyone said he is a right back and I used him on that position during training. I was surprised on the match-day when he said he is an anchorman. Discipline lacks in this team, but it’s a process that needs to be tackled by everyone involved with the national team.” The former Zambian mentor says he had to make last minute changes which saw the highly rated Turkish midfielder relegated to the bench.

The Brave Warriors coach says he was particularly impressed with the local players, most of who featured in the 3-2 win over Malawi. “It takes a lot of time for a team to get a formidable formation and with the few weeks I have been with the team, I must say I am convinced we are on the right track.” Five of the players who were fielded in the first match against Seychelles disappeared from camp on Saturday night forcing the coach to field an entirely local based side against Malawi. The coach says the players only need much exposure to get acquainted to international opposition. Namibia will now play two friendly matches with South Africa in the next fortnight, as preparations for the 2008 Nations Cup qualifiers which starts in September. “We will also camp in South Africa sometime in August to try and utilise all the South African based players who cannot come for training in time,” revealed the coach. Namibia travels to DRC in September for the AFCON qualifiers before meeting Libya and Ethiopia in their Group J matches.

The 46 year old coach says there is no guaranteed place in his squad and the door will be open for veteran midfielder Johannes Congo Hindjou to reclaim his authority in the team. “Congo was dropped from the Cosafa camp because of match fitness. He is still to get 100% fit but the door is open for him and anyone who feels he has what it takes to be in the squad,” the coach said. After the South Africa camp, Bamfuchile indicated that he will be opening discussions for a tour of the Brave Warriors with top Zambian clubs, Zanaco, Red Arrows and his former club Nkana before the Nations Cup qualifiers.

Bamfuchile said he will fight to resurrect Namibian soccer, first from its low rankings on the FIFA chart and then within the country. “The bottom line is for the team to get used to playing frequently and having more competitive games which gives them exposure. We will do it. As long as the football he same direction, we will do it. And I will stand with my boys in defeat and in victory, so as to achieve this goal.” The Brave Warriors are number 45 in the African football pecking order and 167 in the world. There are only 51 countries in African football. Bamfuchile was a two-time assistant coach to British Ian Porterfield in 1994 when Zambia lost in the Africa Nations Cup final against ‘the Super Eagles’ Nigeria in Tunisia. He also served as assistant to former Zambian technical director, Kalusha Bwalya, and is also a former Nkana and Power Dynamos tutor. He has also coached in Swaziland at club level and South African side Amazulu Football Club.

At the time of his resignation from the Chipolopolo bench, Big Ben was receiving nearly K8 million (R$16 000 per month) from the Football Association of Zambia, while senior Bwalya was reportedly earning N$60,000.

Affectionately known as Big Ben, Bamfuchile had already started preparing for the COSAFA cup with Zambia when he took Chipolopolo to a friendly match victory against Botswana before ditching the squad to take up the Namibia national team. “This is the team that Bamfuchile built,” remarked Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) sports reporter, Matimba Nkonje during the Cosafa tournament in Windhoek last week.

The former Nchanga Rangers (in Zambia) defensive stalwart does not seem to be like a coach who runs out of hunting grounds. After an embarrassing exit of Zambia at the Egypt Nations Cup 2006, Bamfuchile’s signature was sought after by the Swaziland national team and the Mozambique technical bench. Bamfuchile was also part of the Zambian technical team that led the best-ever Zambian football team that perished in the 1993 Gabon air crash.

He, including the players Kalusha and Charles Musonda, escaped the fatal tragedy as they did not board the same plane which was en-route to Senegal for a World Cup qualifier.

More than 30 Zambian national team players, coaches and supporters perished in the air disaster off– coast Gabon on their way to Senegal. “We had just returned from Mauritius and I remained in Zambia when the team flew,” recounted Bamfuchile.

Big Ben is credited for creating a new generation of Zambian footballers after the tragedy. He then sat on the bench with a new crop of players at the 1994 Nations Cup (Tunisia) where Zambia lost to Nigeria in the finals. Kalusha later came on board as senior coach while Ben became an understudy to Bwalya in Egypt 2006.

A tip for the Namibian fans from the coach is that everyone “should be behind the team even when the chips are down. That is how hope is built and maintained,” he concludes. Until the Sunday victory over Malawi, the Brave Warriors had not beaten any team in 90 minutes since the 2-1 victory over Mozambique in 1998.

July 2006
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