Namibia back in Rugby World Cup contention

It was a must-win game for Namibia as Kenya are also still in the race, and the technical team says all big-name-players from South Africa need to stand up and be counted.

The current squad is a totally different side to the team that was crowned African champions in 2004. The bulk of the players who participated at the 2002 Rugby World Cup in Australia resigned from the international game after allegations of racism and misma- nagement.

Only Captain Jacques Burger and flanker Schalk van der Merwe remain from the 2004 marauding squad that made the Hage Geingob Stadium a slaughterhouse.

Coach Johan Venter says the former African champions now have every chance of making it to France in 2007, as they now only need to beat another North African side, Morocco. After a disappointing 26-30 loss to Kenya in Nairobi on September 9, Venter said all hope had appeared lost as Kenya seemed to have everything their way.

However, debutant prop Johnny Redelinghuys made a huge contribution in the Tunisia tie with mouth-watering scrummaging that won him the Player of the Match award.

Namibia now await the two-legged encounter with Morocco, starting on October 28 in the capital, with the return leg a tough trip to Casablanca on November 11. Morocco progressed to this leg with a 23-7 second-leg victory over Ivory Coast.

The win also gave them a spot in the final of the African Nations Cup, where they will face Namibia. Both finalists are assured of a place in the World Cup in France next year.

The winner of the two legs will qualify for the 2007 France World Cup. The tie is a replica of the 2004 African Cup final, which Namibia won.

The two teams have met four times over the last five years. In 2002, Namibia lost to Morocco in the finals of the African Nations Cup, but went on to lift the African championship in 2004 against the same opponents.

“They have most of their players playing in the French League and we know they will come for this tie since everyone wants to be at the World Cup, but that won’t deter us. We now know the Moroccans,” said coach Venter.

October 2006
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