Mannetti doing it against all the odds

Ricardo Mannetti’s tenure as Namibia’s national football team coach has had highs and lows, which saw him winning the Cosafa cup and also briefly resigning but the former Brave Warriors and Santos midfielder seem to have finally settled in his role, writes Timo Shihepo. 

After winning the Cosafa cup in 2015 to give Namibia its first major trophy, Mannetti resigned from his coaching role citing contract disputes. He signed a new contract in September the same year. However things started going south, with the Brave Warriors losing 3-0 on aggregate to Guinea in the 2018 World Cup preliminary round qualifiers also late in 2015.

The team then failed to defend its Cosafa cup at home last year losing to Botswana in their very first game. Things then went from bad to worse for Mannetti who is forced to use unfit players since May 2016 as the country’s football league struggles to kick. A situation that continues to persist to date.

Mannetti’s critics became even louder after his charges lost to Lesotho in the Cosafa cup earlier this year. But despite the odds stacked against him, he managed to steer unfit semi-professional players to knock the Cosafa cup champions, Zimbabwe, out of the CHAN qualifiers. It was the first time Zimbabwe had failed to progress to CHAN finals.

His winning streak continued when the Brave Warriors knocked the Comoros Island out of the same competition to qualify for the CHAN finals scheduled for January.

Mannetti made it happened despite Namibia not having had a domestic league for over 12 months while only players playing in the domestic league are eligible to part take in the CHAN competition.

The Southern Times (TST) briefly spoke with Ricardo Mannetti (RM) after last weekend’s victory against Botswana in Windhoek.

(TST) After defeating Botswana 3-1 in a friendly match last weekend at the Sam Nujoma stadium, where to from now with CHAN fast approaching in January?

(RM) There is still another FIFA date in November and we will utilise that to play a friendly. At the moment I don’t know what team we will play next month but the office is engaging potential opponents. We will then have to see what’s happening with the league but if the league doesn’t start then we will have a more intense programme to boost the players’ fitness.

(TST) You have been steering the Brave Warriors ship against all the odds, how are you managing to do that?

(RM) Credit must go to the technical team. I have a lot of experts with a lot of experience behind me for example my assistant (Ronny Kanalelo). We also have a specialised fitness trainer. Really, the technical team makes it easier for me during these difficult times.

(TST) As a coach what help do you still need from the nation apart from having the league starting?

(RM) Well, I am just the coach, my duty is to make sure that the team performs well and win so I cannot really say what the team needs off the football pitch. You have to ask the administration guys that question. But obviously I want my players to be well taken care off.

(TST) How is the general mood in the camp leading up to CHAN?

(RM) In terms of the current events I am very impressed. The attitude and commitment by the players is very commendable at the moment.

(TST) Have you already made your mind up regarding the players you want to take to CHAN?

(RM) It’s too early to have the final squad. We still have October, November and December to go so I have not made my mind regarding who will go to CHAN yet. What I want is the league to start so that we can add more players for competition. At the moment there is no healthy competition in the squad because I cannot bring in other players.

(TST) Goodluck on yours and team’s future endeavours coach.

(RM) Thank you very much. Take care too.

October 2017
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