Namibia: Pressure On Gladiators Ahead of Cosafa Cup

The pressure will be on the Brave Gladiators to perform well at the Cosafa Women's Championship which will be held in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality from 31 July to 11 August.

After a fine start to the Cosafa Cup in 2006 when they won the silver medal, Namibia have dropped down the rankings, and for the past two years have not progressed past the group stages.

This year they also lost to Botswana for the first time, after suffering a 3-2 aggregate home and away defeat to their eastern neighbours in an Olympic Games qualifying competition.

This led to a shake-up in the coaching staff with Mammie Kasaona appointed as head coach and Robert Nauseb as her assistant, while former coach Brian Isaacs has stayed on in an advisory role. These appointments, however, are only temporary as the posts will be re-advertised after the tournament and the head of the NFA's women's desk Jackey Gertze has warned that the pressure will be on them to do well.

"Mammie and Robert have just been selected for the Cosafa Cup tournament and their positions will be re-advertised afterwards. They will have to prove themselves and it's very important that they perform well," she said.

"In the past the Brave Gladiators have won the silver medal and once also finished fourth, but we have dropped down in recent years and at the last two editions we didn't even make it past the first round. We just want to be one of the best teams in the Cosafa Cup again - we should be among the top three teams again," she added.

Gertze said that a good performance will also be beneficial for the players.

"It's also important for the girls to do well, because then they can get professional contracts, but we need to go beyond the group stages if they want to improve their chances," she said.

Namibia have been drawn in Group B along with Zambia, Mauritius and Botswana, while Group A consists of South Africa, Malawi, Madagascar and the Comores Islands, and Group C of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola and eSwatini.

Cosafa will for the first time also host an u19 tournament which will run concurrently with the senior tournament at the same venue. Gertze confirmed that Namibia will also attend although the team still has to be finalised.

Namibia's senior squad, meanwhile, has been hard at work preparing for the past three weeks and captain Zenatha Coleman said they were determined to do well.

"We know Zambia and Botswana very well. I'm very glad we got drawn to meet Botswana again, because it's about time that we take revenge after they eliminated us from the Olympic Games qualifiers. I'm really looking forward to it and if we are at our best we can go far," she said.

"It's a great honour to be appointed captain of my country and I'm really looking forward to the tournament. I missed out last year, because I had to join my new team, Valencia in Spain, but now I'm glad to be back," she added.

Coleman said she was pleased with her form in Spain, although her team did not do very well.

"We finished eighth, which was our worst season for many years, but I think I performed OK. I only scored seven goals, but I played every match and gave some assists as well," she said.

"The Spanish league is very different than the Namibian one. It's fully professional, and everything from training to their youth academies is run very professionally," she added.

Coleman is one of three foreign-based professionals in the squad, with the others being defender Veweziwa Kotjiopati, who recently joined German Bundesliga club Borussia Moenchengladbach, and midfielder Annuschka Kordom, who plays for Capital FC Athletic in the United States.

The Namibian squad is as follows:

Goal keepers: Lydia Eixas, Melissa Matheus and Fiola Vliete.

Defenders: Ndapewa Katuta, Selma Enkali, Lorraine Jossop, Lydiana Nanamus, Veronica van Wyk, Emma Naris, Lovisa Miulunga, Veweziwa Kotjipati, Kamunikire Tjituka and Millicent Hikuam.

Midfielders: Ivonne Kooper, Twelikondjela Amukoto, Thomalina Adams, Memory Ngonda, Juliana Blou, Elmarie Fredericks, Anuschka Kordom, Asteria Angula, Eva Uulumbu and Meltret Ujama.

Strikers: Anna-Marie Shikusho, Beverly Uueziua, Kylie van Wyk and Zenatha Coleman (captain).

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