Windhoek — Adding more firepower in front of goal and making sure ball possession is maintained at all times will be key when Namibia's Brave Warriors confront the Warriors of Zimbabwe in the Dr Hage Geingob Cup at the Sam Nujoma Stadium this Saturday at 16h00.
Announcing his 23-man squad in the capital yesterday, Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti was trending on the old adage that says 'forward ever, backwards never', as he signaled his intention to accord the visiting Zimbabweans an inhospitable welcome on match day.
With Brave Warriors goal-poacher Muna Katupose and enterprising midfielder Benjamin Nenkavu both sidelined by minor injuries, and striker Itamunua Keimuine overlooked for this weekend's clash, Mannetti roped in the services of two highly promising talents - Tura Magic's young net-buster Junias Theophilus and Orlando Pirates' workaholic and skillful youngster Christiaan Jakobus Doeseb - to fill the void.
Mannetti also further bolstered his attacking wolf pack upfront through the addition of MTC Namibia Premier League (NPL) current leading top scorer African Stars' Panduleni 'Kaka' Nekundi, while his teammate defender Tjiuana-tja Tjinotjiua has also been called up to give the coach options at the back.
Brave Warriors stocky box-to-box midfielder Wangu Gome is back on the national team radar and forms part of the squad that will face the visiting Warriors on Saturday. Three foreign-based players in Peter Shalulile, Denzil Hoaseb and Larry Horaeb have also been retained for their experience and also to add a bit of depth to the squad.
"Question is who replaced Itamunua? His teammate Junias is in because he scored more goals than him. It shows that no one is safe. Being on this list is not a guarantee that you will make it to CHAN. We want this kind of competition in the team and we need new faces from time to time. Junias has performed better than Itamunua and now I'm according him a chance to make his country proud," explained Mannetti.
About the opposition on Saturday, Mannetti states that his mission remains the African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals taking place in Morocco in January, while for Zimbabwe the focus is on the AFCON qualifiers that resume in March next year. "On paper they look stronger and they are bringing in players from England and South Africa but that's not a problem for me. We want to give the CHAN players as much game time as possible. But we also still want to do well and win the Dr Hage Geingob Cup. The pressure is on Zimbabwe to come to the party. We are the underdog and we will work our socks off come Saturday," says Mannetti.
Match tickets are selling for N$30 each at Football House and at all Pick n Pay stores countrywide. The match will be preceded by a curtain-raiser between the Brave Gladiators and their juniors the Young Gladiators at 13h00.
The 23-man Brave Warriors squad: Edward Maova, Charles Uirab, Lodyt Kazapua, Ferdinand Karongee, Tiberius Lombard, Charles Hambira, Tjiuana-tja Tjinotjiua, Larry Horaeb, Edmund Kambanda, Dynamo Fredericks, Immanuel Heita, Hendrick Somaeb, Petrus Shitembi, Ronald Ketjijere, Denzil Haoseb, Absalom Iimbondi, Roger Katjiteo, Christiaan Jakobus Doeseb, Panduleni Nekundi, Junias Theophilus, Wangu Gome, Riaan Hanamub and Peter Shalulile.
Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti and NFA media officer Dan Kamati during yesterday's press conference at Football House in Windhoek.