Namibia football derailed by lack of sponsorship

Andreas Thomas

WINDHOEK – Namibia started the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying campaign on the back foot following a 0-1 defeat to Guinea Bissau, in Bissau, last Saturday.

Despite the defeat, Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti was full of praise eam, considering the lack of match fitness for a number of the players.

The Namibian football league has been dormant for over 18 months, due to lack of sponsors and funding. The same period also saw board- room fights between the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the Namibia Premier League.

Nonetheless, Mannetti remains hopeful to qualify for the Afcon finals in Cameroon, despite losing the opening Group K match to the west Africans.

“The goal was a brilliant free kick taken. No one is to blame and they held on until the end. But we played good as well,” Mannetti said in a statement issued by NFA after the match on Sunday.

“If the boys can give such a show- ing despite all the challenges of no football for league and country in the past year, I think it gives me hope that we can make it still. We should not press the panic buttons. There is no need yet.”

The 2019 Afcon qualifying campaign will resume next year, which Mannetti believes will afford his team enough time to catch up in terms of match fitness.

The Brave Warriors will face Chipolopolo of Zambia in Wind- hoek on March 27.

By then Mannetti, who featured for the Brave Warriors in the first appearance at Afcon in 1998, will pray for the domestic league to have resumed.

The second time Namibia featured at the African Cup of Nations was 2008 that was staged in Ghana. “I think it is also a blessing in disguise that we only play next year and hopefully by then the boys would have kicked off with the league here locally and build on today’s performance. Today’s loss is not a setback but a hurdle that we failed to overcome but we remain positive and focused on Cameroon 2019,” said the former midfielder.

Namibia, who are ranked 27th in Africa, is third in Group K with Zambia at the bottom after losing 0-1 at home to Mozambique in a earlier match last Saturday. Guinea Bissau is leading the pack on three points, with Mozambique second also on three points.

From Guinea Bissau, Mannetti and his team are headed to South Africa to partake in the Confedera- tion of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) Cup start- ing on Sunday, June 25.

The Brave Warriors hosted the 2016 edition of COSAFA which it won in 2015. After the COASAFA, Namibia has a date with Zimbabwe for the Africa Nations Champions (CHAN) qualifiers in July.

And on a sour note regarding the Namibian football, NFA has announced that Namibia will not defend its COSAFA Under-17 title, scheduled for next month in Mauritius.

Namibia won the junior tournament last year – but due to financial troubles, NFA is un end the team to Mauritius.

” Due to the well-known fact of budget cuts across the board in the country, we are unable, together with the government, to send the team for the COSAFA Under-17 Championship,” NFA president Frans Mbidi said in statement issued on Monday.

Namibia won the 2016 COSAFA Under-17 Championship after a 3-1 penalty shoot-out victory over South Africa, after a 1-1 draw in the final in Mauritius.

Mbidi, however, assured the pub- lic that the senior national team, the Brave Warriors, will compete in the COSAFA Castle Cup to be held in Rustenburg

“The Brave Warriors will com- pete as earlier stated and confirmed in the COSAFA senior challenge in South Africa. It’s a matter of priori- ties for us and we felt we need to compete in the senior challenge. We need to make sure we are involved with international football and right now it’s about priorities until such time that the situation in the country normalizes,” the NFA chief explained.

Despite losing out on the adventure in Mauritius, the team also known as the Baby Warri- ors departed for Westphalia on Wednesday night for their bi- annual Germany two-week devel- opmental tour.

This is part of a bilateral agree- ment between the Namibian gov- ernment and the Westphalia Foot- ball Association in conjunction with the NFA.

“This agreement marked 20 years in 2015 and remains a very impor- tant one for us. Yes the boys won Cosafa but now they go to Germany to further develop themselves. They will be around state of the art facili- ties and engage in a lot of football related activities and that is what holistic development is all about,” Mbidi said in a statement.

According to NFA, the team will be hosted at the prestigious Kamen- Kaiserau Sports Centre and will amongst others play against Hom- burcher SV Under-18 tomorrow and will also get a chance to experience the Germa Final DFB on Sunday.

June 2017
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