Namibia: Gladiators Set Mares Trap

The Brave Gladiators' supporters need not panic. "We got this," says captain Zenatha Coleman, who today leads the Gladiators' assault against Botswana's Mares as they look to overturn a 1-0 2020 Olympic Games preliminary round first-leg qualifier deficit incurred in Gaborone last Friday.

"The nation can expect to get a [good] result. We are determined to get a win. We were not bad on Friday. They [Botswana] will have a plan too, and we need to be smart. We know them better after the first match, and we will be much improved," the 25 year-old sharpshooter told The Namibian Sport at training on Monday.

Head coach Brian Isaacs shares his star player's confidence ahead of the return leg, which takes place at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.

Namibia need to win by two clear goals to progress to the second qualification phase, where regional powerhouse South Africa awaits.

"We were nervous in the beginning on Friday. We weren't ourselves because of the tension, but we played well. I'm not worried," Isaacs said.

"I'm of the opinion that we can turn the tables around. The determination, on the other side, lacked a little bit. We were scared to make mistakes. Now, we should play to enjoy ourselves, and the result will come," he assured.

A greater all-round intensity and ruthlessness in front of goal will ensure the Gladiators keep their Olympic dream alive, Isaacs added.

"We are more than capable of playing better and beating them tomorrow [today]. We must play with confidence and hunger. We must keep them on the back foot from the start," said Isaacs.

The Gladiators were undone by a speculative effort from Refilwe Tholakelo in the 82nd minute, when her looping punt from the halfway line caught keeper Mellissa Matheus off-guard.

"I thought our defence played really well, even though we conceded a goal. They were more offensive than us because they were at home, and wanted to take an advantage to Windhoek. But, we had at least three very good chances that we did not capitalise on," Isaacs narrated.

"They surprised us. They are a skilful team, who like to pass the ball. I don't think that they will come here to relax, so we can expect a tough match."

Experienced winger Thomalina Adams misses the match after picking up a knock on Friday, with defender and vice captain Emma Naris an injury doubt.

Isaacs remains positive that the sturdy Naris will be fit to play a role today, while he has able deputies waiting in the wings should she not be up for the task.

Entrance is free for school children, while adults will be charged N$10.

Kick-off is at 18h30.

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