Training has already started for the Brave Warriors this week and coach Ricardo Mannetti says they will surely progress through the group stage of the 2018 African Nations Championships (CHAN) that starts on 13 January 2018 in Morocco.
Namibia, the underdogs of the competition, has been drawn in the group of continental heavyweights Ivory Coast, Zambia and Uganda in Group B.
The Braves will start their debut in the competition with a date with Ivory Coast in Marrakech on the 14 January.
“We are in a tough group, but I feel we have a chance to getting out of that group as underdogs. We are the new ones in the group and the competition but we will need to respect football and our opponents.
We will surprise our group opponents,’ said Mannetti.
This week, Mannetti announced his 31-men squad for the competition that will still get a trimming based on training performance.
The coach and his technical team brought new legs to the list, thanks to the ongoing league and the just-ended Debmarine Namibian Cup that gave Mannetti a pool to select from.
Young Calvyn Spiegel from Chief Santos will be the fourth choice goalkeeper if he can give the likes of regulars Edward Maova, Charles Uirab and Lydt Kazapua a run for a spot in the final list and hopefully make his first appearance in the national regalia.
Vikapita Ngaruka from Black Africa, Penda Mongudhi and Jackson Johannes of Young Chiefs, Hubert Mingeri and Kleopas Useb of Life Fighter are the new lads on the list.
“It’s all up to the players that we have brought in to see if they can smoke the pipe. It they cannot, we still have the core team.
We should also take note that it is not all about players who do well on club level, we are looking for players that can adapt to the national team’s style of play.
Going into an important tournament like this, it only makes sense that we keep the core of the players and bring in a couple of new players and see how they respond to the training sessions,” said Mannetti.
Mannetti will announce his 25 men squad over the weekend as some players still need to be assessed ahead of the team’s departure to Tunisia after the festive season.
Speedy winger Benjamin Nenkavu was omitted from the list due to a recurring knee injury but was said to be joining the training sessions.
The team will play three friendlies before the competition with teams in the same camping region. Mannetti also confirmed that the team will definitely rub friendly shoulders with a West African team to prepare them for their Ivory Coast clash in terms of the equatorial style of play.
“As underdogs, all we have is competition and tournament experience and that will come in handy. But what is most important is team spirit. We should have proper team harmony thus I called up players I believed would do the battle for Namibia.”
The current team before trimming has Edward Maova, Charles Uirab, Loydt Kazapua, Calvin Spiegel, Ferdinand Karongee, Kennedy Eib, Tiberius Lombard, Charles Hambira, Hubert Mingeri, Tjiuana-tja Tjinotjiua, Edmund Kambanda, Dynamo Fredericks, Immanuel Heita, Hendrick Somaeb, Petrus Shitembi, Ronald Ketjijere, Emilio Martin, Absalom Iimbondi, Roger Katjiteo, Penda Mongudhi, Jackson Johannes, Kleopas Useb, Gregory Auchumeb, Vitapi Ngaruka, Panduleni Nekundi, Junius Theophilus, Riaan Hanamub, Oswaldo Xamseb, Muna Katupose and Himeezembi Hengombe.
Midfielder Wangu Gome is out of contention for the final team to compete at the finals while Itamunua Keimuine makes a return as Muna Katupose struggles to recover from a knee injury.
“Wangu is on his way to Platinum Stars in South Africa. He spoke to me about it and will join the club after Christmas and I will not stand in his way.
Club football is very personal and players have the right to play wherever they need to.”
The African Nations Championship is the Confederation of African Football’s Nations Cup version for home-based players only, hence Wangu will not qualify.
Worrying news for Mannetti is the stubborn knee injury of striker Katupose who scored twice to sink the Comoros Islands in August and book Namibia’s place in Morocco for the finals.
“Muna has a niggling knee injury and we will still see how he responds. He got the experience and was instrumental for us through the qualifiers and we would love to have him around for consideration but its looks more unlikely now.”
Katupose’s injury opens the door for Tura Magic striker Itamunua Keimuine who returns to the fold.
The opening match and the final will be played at the newly refurbished Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca, which also hosted the second leg final of the Total CAF Champions League 2017.