Underdogs Brave Warriors clearly left a mark at the on-going 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco. Despite being booted out in the quarter finals, coach Ricardo Mannetti has his head high with no regrets.
In fact, Manetti says their journey at the tournament was a learning experience. The Braves, a relative football minnow in the competition exited the group with only one defeat after walking over continental favourites such Ivory Coast, Uganda and a draw against neighbours Zambia.
The team exceeded expectations and the exposure and experience can only be beneficial moving forward.
Speaking to the coach this week, Mannetti shared some of the lessons he has learned from the Confederation of African Football tournament.
“It is clear that Chan is a reflection of domestic football,” Mannetti shared his first lesson saying they went against nations with established and competitive domestic football.
Here at home, football for the past years has been played more in boardrooms than on the pitch. This has deprived both the players and the nation from progressing and developing in football as a nation.
“What we saw there was how serious and strong other African countries are when it comes to football at home.
We need to improve in terms of participation in this type of competition and we can only get better if development is right at home,” said Mannetti.
On a positive note, Mannetti applauded the Namibia Football Association and the government for the cash injection towards their preparation.
The team left for Tunisia first before landing in Morocco.
“This should be the standard going forward. We cannot put in less because it helped the team a lot,” he said.
The team was partly criticized for the style of play during the competition. Critics say the team was not in possession but Mannetti maintains that it was a strategy from the onset.
“Football is all about teamwork. Even if the other team has good individual players, teamwork on our side won the games. We had to take a style that protected us but also suited the players. I could not believe how compact the team played, adapting to the style very well.”
In the group stage games, the Brave Warriors scooped the Player of the Match accolades in all three games.
Stats on their first game against Ivory Coast show that the Braves had more shots on goal despite not having the ball possession. “It was simple – let them have the ball but decide where they should play,” said Mannetti who also praised the team for its’ depth in terms of quality.
Namibia in terms of infrastructure can only learn from the best. Mannetti highlighted that the sound development in Morocco translates into their vivid success in the competition.
“The training field that we used in Morocco is way better than any stadium in Namibia. Young players are exposed to this level of pitches and as such get used to it going forward. Namibia has so much to learn.”
Lastly, Mannetti highly praised his technical team for the experience and sound relationship they had during the competition.
The 42-year old commended his team saying their support and teamwork was another recipe to the relative success they enjoyed on the pitch.