22 November 2012

Namibia: Welwitschias Return to Vodacom Cup

Windhoek — Namibian senior rugby team coach, Danie Vermeulen, says his bruised squad will soldier on and remain focused and determined following their near faultless display during their narrow 38-37 defeat at the hands of Spain.

Hosts Namibia surrendered a point lead in the dying minutes of their Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations Tournament against the technically superior Spaniards at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek last weekend.

In an exclusive interview with New Era Sports, Vermeulen hailed his side for putting up a gallant fight against the Europeans, saying his newly-assembled squad proved their mettle and determination. He said the squad demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt its will to win when they defied all the odds that were stacked against them to stretch Spain to the limit - until Jaime Nava's last minute penalty handed Spain the heart breaking victory.

Vermeulen, who expressed confidence in the team's future, says he plans to add a few foreign-based players to the current squad in the hope that they will introduce much needed experience, while assisting the young players to adapt and keep momentum ahead of their anticipated participation in the highly competitive South African Provincial Vodacom Cup, early next year.

The wheelchair-bound mentor emphasized that it is a very crucial for the Welwitschias to be part of the important tournament, since it provides good competition and exposure for the young players. He added that if the majority of his foreign legion makes it to the Vodacom Cup Challenge, he will have a clear view to select a strong team made up of local and international players to represent Namibia in next year's World Cup qualifiers in July.

"We all saw how the boys played during the course of the tournament. I think for a team which was assembled within just about six weeks ahead of the tournament to produce such results is really commendable. We beat current African champions Zimbabwe and narrowly lost against Spain, who were ranked two places above us. So, we must all be very proud of that and take the positives we learned from the tournament," added Vermeulen.

Vermeulen is confident that Namibia will make it to the 2015 International Rugby Board (IRB) World Cup, in England. "Yes, most definitely, I mean we have quality players that can make an impact at any level of play, if given a decent opportunity, so I'm very confident Namibia will qualify.

"The only thing currently hampering our progress is the lack of experienced players and the deficiency of enough game time, so it's very vital that we at least provide these players with opportunities to participate in high profile competitions like the Vodacom Cup and others where young players get opportunities to mingle with experienced players, while gaining international exposure at the same time," concluded Vermeulen.

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