10 November 2017

Namibia/Zimbabwe: Warriors Battle for Geingob Cup

The Brave Warriors want to win the 2017 Dr Hage Geingob Cup on Saturday with free-spirited attacking football against a star-studded Zimbabwe side out for vengeance, says head coach Ricardo Mannetti.

That enterprising approach is nothing less than what the home faithful demand from an inconsistent team looking to build up steam ahead of a maiden African Nations Championships (Chan) challenge.

Football patron and head of state Hage Geingob has also thrown his weight behind the Brave Warriors, urging them to defeat Zimbabwe and ensuring that the cup remains at home. Geingob has handed over the trophy to South African powerhouse Mamelodi Sundowns three times since the event's inception in 2014, a trend that he wants arrested on Saturday.

"Sundowns have taken it [the trophy] for good. This year, the cup is elevated to senior level football, and I call on the team to do their best against Zimbabwe and make sure we keep the trophy at home, even more significantly at the Sam Nujoma Stadium," Geingob said.

Keeping the trophy on home soil will be easier said than done as the Zimbabwean Warriors arrive on a revenge mission after being dumped out of the Chan qualifiers by a rusty Namibian side in July.

Namibia will look to heap further misery on a star-studded Zimbabwe, featuring their British Brigade, who slumped to a 1-0 friendly defeat against Lesotho in Maseru on Wednesday. The visitors will no doubt be looking to avoid a third consecutive loss and want to crash the Brave Warriors' Christmas party.

"That result has no bearing on Saturday's match. I won't be fooled by that result and think Zimbabwe is struggling. On Saturday, it is a different game with different dynamics, so obviously they'll play a different type of game," Mannetti told The Namibian Sport on Thursday.

Zimbabwe will use the match to test formations ahead of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers which resume in March, while Mannetti's focus remains on getting the Brave Warriors battle-ready for the 2018 Chan finals in Morocco.

First-choice keeper Edward Maova, the hero in the Chan win over Zimbabwe, and MTC Premiership leading scorer Panduleni Nekundi are doubtful for the encounter through injury.

"We will have the same approach. I would think they will be playing to beat us as well, so it should make for a great match of two teams trying to win.

"We want to do well in front of our President and home fans. We have prepared to win; to play good football, and to entertain," he reiterated.

Entertainment will be the operative word on the day, with the first 7 000 supporters through the gates set to receive an assortment of souvenirs courtesy of the event organisers and sponsors MTC, Namibia Breweries Ltd, Huawei, Namibia Wildlife Resorts and Air Namibia.

Revellers also stand a chance to win prizes by participating in activities inside the stadium, where the Brave Gladiators and Junior Gladiators play the curtain-raiser at 13h00.

Tickets bought beforehand are N$20 each from Web-tickets Namibia at all Pick n Pay branches countrywide and Football House in Katutura, while limited tickets will be sold at the gates for N$40.

Leading musicians such as PDK, One Blood, Kalux, Tswazis and Adora will entertain the crowd throughout the day.

NBL brand manager Samanthe Heyns believes this year's event will be better than its predecessors.

"Apart from the fact that the Dr Hage Geingob Cup tournament continues to grow from strength to strength, it has become one of the most anticipated events of the year by soccer fans, players, and the public at large both locally and across the borders," she said.

"This year, we are excited about the fact that the format has changed to now become an officially recognised Fifa international, which provides our national team, the Tafel Lager Brave Warriors, with an extra opportunity to prepare for the all-important road to Morocco after successfully progressing through the qualifying stages," Heyns added.

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