Windhoek — Namibia's Brave Warriors have been drawn against continental giants Ivory Coast, Zambia and Uganda in Group B of next year's African Nations Championship (CHAN) tournament, which is slated for Morocco.
The draw for the CHAN tournament, which will be played in Morocco from January 13 to February 4, was conducted on Friday in Rabat, Morocco. Namibia and her Group B opponents will all be based in Marrakech.
Host country Morocco is in Group A with Guinea, Sudan and Mauritania, while Nigeria is in Group C alongside Libya, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea. Group D includes Angola, Cameroon, Congo and Burkina Faso.
The Brave Warriors will make their CHAN debut with a clash against continental football powerhouse Ivory Coast on January 14, before facing east African contenders Uganda on January 18.
Namibia will conclude her Group B action with a tie against southern African neighbours Zambia on January 22 in the only Group B match that will be played in Casablanca, as the rest will be played in Marrakech.
Reacting to Friday's draw, Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti indicated to the NFA media desk that he was excited and looking forward eagerly to the task at hand, saying they will take it one match at a time.
"I expected strong teams in our group and I'm not surprised by the Group B lineup, but I would say our group's lineup provides us with a perfect dais to carry the underdog tag and that suits me and my team very well. It's our first time at the CHAN finals and we will take it one game at a time," said Mannetti, who steered the Brave Warriors to a historic 2015 Cosafa Cup triumph.
"If you ask me if a victory is possible against any of our three opponents, I will definitely say 'yes'. Ivory Coast is a very strong team and a side like Uganda also improved over the years and have been very consistent, as well.
"Zambia on the other hand is a powerhouse in its own right and a strong football nation, but it is possible for us to surprise them if we get our approach and tactics right, as well as play to our full strength. We can beat them."
Mannetti believes the CHAN fixture against Zambia will also come in handy in terms of preparation for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier match set for March next year when the qualifiers resume.
The CHAN quarterfinals will be played on January 27 and 28, 2018. These will be subsequently followed by the semifinals on January 31, and third-place playoff on February 3, before the final on Sunday, February 4.
The tournament will be played over three weeks between January 12 and February 4, 2018. The CHAN tournament brings together 16 national teams composed of local players playing in the national leagues of their respective countries.