Windhoek — Namibia's senior football team, the Brave Warriors, put up a courageous performance and held their own, despite narrowly losing 2-1 in an international friendly match against this year's African Cup of Nations (AFCON) hopefuls Morocco, on Saturday at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Going into the match as clear underdogs, the Brave Warriors started off well, but it was the Moroccans who were first to register their name on the score sheet when Mounir El Hamdaoui caught the Namibian defence napping and quickly created space on the far right before unleashing a powerful shot into the roof of the net, to make it 1-0.
The goal however served as an awakening call for the Warriors, who started playing as a unit and also created their own chances. Wayward midfielder Lazarus Kaimbi, captain Ronald Ketjijere and Petrus Shitembi started stringing together a few decent passes that connected well with lethal striker Tangeni Shipahu.
As the game was heading to halftime, the ever-enterprising Shitembi engineered a beautiful pass that found lone striker Shipahu well placed, but could unfortunately not perfect his finishing touch as he blasted the ball against the advancing Moroccan goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri.
In the final seconds of the 1st half, it was the ever-galloping midfield maestro Kaimbi who equalized for the Warriors. It all started with some hard pressing from Stephanus and Shitembi in the middle of the pitch and Kaimbi quickly took control of the ball and passed it into the path of Shipahu, who skipped a defender before laying it off for Kaimbi, who hit a low far right post shot from the edge of the box to make it 1-1.
In the 2nd half, Brave Warriors coach Bernard Kaanjuka rung a few changes when he brought on Sadney Urikhob in place of Shipahu and in the 73rd minute Rudolph Bester made way for Eslin Kamuhanga, while Stephanus was replaced by Denzil Hoaseb. But it was substitute Josef Kaddeuoi who extended Morocco's lead when he beat Namibian goalkeeper Virgil Vries with a cracking post shot, to make it 2-1 in favour of Morocco.
Neville Tjiueza came on for Shitembi with only 5 minutes to go, but it was however too late for the Namibians to produce any miracles, as the north Africans strongly held on to their 2-1 lead to emerge victorious. Coach Kaanjuka was however pleased with his team's overall performance.
"We played against a team which is tactical and very fast and they gave us a good game indeed. I wanted to expose my players to this sort of football and now face Malawi on March 23 in a World Cup qualifier, I'm sure we can work on some mistakes that cost us the game - such as concentration at vital moments and fitness of the team," said Kaanjuka.
Additional reporting by: nfa.org.na