25 June 2019

Namibia: Warriors Regroup for Bafana

Photo: Bafana Bafana/Twitter
Bafana Bafana starting 11.

The Brave Warriors on Monday vowed to bounced back from Sunday's agonising 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations Group D defeat against Morocco's Atlas Lions in Cairo.

Namibia appeared on course for an unlikely point before substitute forward Itamunua Keimuine had the misfortune of putting the ball into his own net with two minutes of the taxing contest left.

Bitterly disappointed, the deflated Warriors slumped to the ground at the final whistle, and were consoled by their coaching staff.

Head coach Ricardo Mannetti led the recovery process when embracing a crestfallen Keimuine, and shouldering the blame for the defeat.

"We played a very strong Moroccan side, and we held our own very well. In the end, we gave them a goal, and I take the blame for that," Mannetti told the NFA website in a post-match interview.

"The boys did all they could today, and unfortunately that happened. It's football, and we have to plan for the next match."

Ranked 66 places above Namibia, World Cup finalists Morocco were expected to blow their rivals away, but were rebuffed by the sturdy Brave Warriors shields.

Goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua was arguably Namibia's most outstanding player, making several saves to thwart the Lions' attack. The evident disparity in quality contributed to the Brave Warriors' adopting a conservative approach for the match played in energy-sapping sweltering conditions inside the sparsely filled Al-Salam Stadium.

Morocco head coach Herve Renard, hunting a third Afcon title, put his side's struggles down to the heat and compact Brave Warriors unit.

"We battled because of the good organisation of Namibia, the heat, and the fact that we were playing our first match," said the Frenchman.

"The most important thing was to take three points, and I hope Namibia will pose problems for Ivory Coast and South Africa."

Defeat for Namibia means Friday's showdown with South Africa takes on extra significance if the Warriors are to maintain their faint hopes of reaching the round of 16 phase.

South Africa and Ivory Coast's Elephants were due to start their campaign yesterday.

"We play in the group of death, and we are the underdogs, but I am proud of what we have done today. Most of my players are in our [amateur] domestic league. I'm disappointed that we didn't get at least a point because we deserved a draw. We will play an important role in determining the fate of this group. Morocco is a very strong team, and they are favourites for the title," Mannetti said.

Tura Magic right back Larry Horaeb, who put in an excellent shift, said the Moroccan experience has made them stronger for the remainder of the tournament.

"It was a very tactical game, a very high intensity game and unfortunately in the last moments, we lost it. But against South Africa, we need to go full out and get a result. We need to make our loved ones and people back home happy.

Likewise, English export Ryan Nyambe, making his competitive international debut, was imperious at centre-back, and felt they deserved more from Sunday's match.

Morocco's dominance of possession and goal-mouth action does not necessarily mean the Brave Warriors were out of their depth, he said.

"It was a big test for us. It was a good game for us, considering Morocco are a big team with big players," Nyambe added.

"I don't think they outplayed us in any way. I think it was an even game; it's just that we were unfortunate to concede in the last few minutes.

"For the next game, I think we have to play the same way and improve on our end-product, and I think we'll be fine," he observed.

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