15 January 2018

Namibia/Cote d'Ivoire: Hambira Winner Gives Namibia Precious Victory

CENTRAL defender Charles Hambira's 92nd minute winner helped the Brave Warriors to a landmark 1-0 victory over Ivory Coast at the Grand Stade Marrakech on Sunday to provide the first shock of the 2018 African Nations Championships.

The win represents Namibia's first at a senior continental competition for men and a first over Ivory Coast in competitive action.

Namibia provisionally went top of Group B on three points ahead of Uganda's clash with Zambia later.

Having kept the Elephants attackers at bay for 90 minutes, Hambira rose highest to delicately flick in a header from an in-swinging Riaan Hanamub delivery to hand Namibia a deserved victory.

"I did not think I would score today but it happened and I'm very happy about our victory," said man of the match Hambira.

Ivory Coast had most of the ball throughout the entertaining contest but rarely troubled Loydt Kazapua in goal for Namibia.

In fact, Namibia looked the more threatening side and should have been 2-0 up by halftime had it not been for poor finishing.

Midfielder Petrus Shitembi had the first opening on goal after 16 minutes when he cut in from the right wing and attempted to curl the ball around Zadi Ble but the Ivorian keeper palmed his effort away.

Soon after Hendrik Somaeb came within centimetres to applying the finishing touch to a flowing move involving Hananub and Junias Theophilus on the left wing.

Somaeb squeezed between two defenders but failed to get sufficient contact with his head to divert the ball into the net.

Playing on the counter, Namibia again carved out a few half chances which went unconverted in the second half before Hambira struck late on.

"Sometimes you control the match without having a lot of the ball. I felt we controlled the match in that respect. We executed our tactics well and got the all important win," said a beaming Namibia head coach Ricardo Mannetti.

"We were very organised in our approach. It's the first time we beat Ivory Coast. This is very sentimental and very historic for the Namibian people."

Mannetti added that his charges would not get complacent despite beating one of the favourites for the title.

"I'll let the boys have their moment in the sun. They deserve it. With that said, the objective remain the same. We want to get out of the group and we have made the right start. So, we have to start afresh for the second match and not think about what happened against Ivory Coast," he said.

Namibia next play Uganda on Thursday at the same venue, with Zambia taking on Ivory Coast, who's coach Ibrahima Kamara said they had an off day against the Brave Warriors.

"We made a bad start. We have to pick ourselves up, work hard and go again. We played against a very good opponent. Congratulations to them. Things did not go according to plan but we still have two matches to try to improve," he said.

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