8 June 2018

Namibia Leave China On a High

Midfielder Hiha Katjivena scored the only goal of the match as Namibia beat China U23s 1-0 to end their tour of the world's most populous nation on a high.

Determined to right the wrongs of their first China Football Association (CFA) Team China international match when they were trumped 4-2 two days earlier, Namibia gave a much-improved version of themselves at the Wanzhou Sports Stadium yesterday.

It was a dominant performance from the visitors, who restricted China to only three shots on target throughout.

The outstanding Katjivena from Tura Magic amplified the Young Warriors' display on 54 minutes when he rifled an unstoppable shot into the far corner from the right, leaving Chinese goalkeeper Li Zheng flabbergasted.

Head coach Timo Tjongarero was elated with what he described as a complete performance by his prospects.

"The boys showed character to come back from a 4-2 defeat the other day. They did not drop their heads, and we prepared well for this game thanks to game footage that helped me and the technical team to work on specific areas that were contained today. We could have scored more goals than one, but I can't ask for more now," Tjongarero told nfa.org.na.

"If the boys can agree to stay in Windhoek and we work on the field on this issue every day, it can be solved. It has been a big problem for all our national teams, and we need to seriously address it," he stated.

Katjivena was having the game of his life, nearly replicating his earlier effort minutes later when he let fly from 20 metres. But this time, Zheng was equal to the task as he fisted the ball over the bar for a corner kick.

In a one-sided first half, nippy forward Israel Shikongo came close on 19 minutes when he placed his effort agonisingly wide of the upright after cutting inside his marker. Next to come close was defender Kennedy Eib, whose driven free kick from 25 metres flew into the goalkeeper's hands.

With seven minutes left in the first half, Katjivena was put through on goal with a magnificent pass from the mercurial Anthony Kham, but his decision-making let him down. Shortly afterwards, McCartney Naweseb had a one-on-one with Li Zheng, but dragged his shot wide.

The confident Namibians' dominance was continued in the second half as they peppered Zheng's goal with shots from all angles.

Another fierce Eib free kick saw Zheng spill the ball, with the resultant follow-up strike by Shikongo adjudged to have been offside.

Despite several substitutions in the second half, Namibia remained in control of the match. Romario Hawiseb, Giovanni Nauseb, Rivaldo Festus, Wisely Kauua, Brandon Neibeb, Hubert Mingeri and Paulus Abel all came on in the second half.

China's Italian coach Massimiliano Maddoloni also rang the changes in a bid to wrest control of the match but to little effect.

Substitute Chen Binbin had the host's best chance on 88 minutes from a well struck free kick, which Abel safely gathered after two attempts.

In his assessment of the two games, a gracious Maddoloni said Namibia had great potential.

"They only had a day to prepare and adjust to time changes for the first game, and in the second half of that game, you could see their potential while today they dominated very well and played good football," the China coach said.

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