Namibia/Eritrea: Wary Warriors to See Job Through

10 September 2019

COMPLACENCY will be out of the question when the Brave Warriors host Eritrea in a 2022 Fifa World Cup first-round second-leg qualifier at Sam Nujoma Stadium on Tuesday, says interim head coach Bobby Samaria.

He expects his charges to be more intense and ruthless at home after their indifferent showing in Asmara last week when they struggled for a 2-1 win.

The inclusion of regular captain Petrus Shitembi will bolster the team in an attacking sense, while he also provides guile and composure to a midfield that struggled to assert itself on the East African minnows last time out.

Having missed the first leg through trials in Germany, the Rundu-born playmaker is keen to see the Warriors through to the next round of qualification.

"I expect a difficult match. They will definitely be looking to cause an upset," he said.

Playing away in Africa is never an easy task, regardless of the opposition, he added, when dismissing the notion that his teammates may have underestimated Eritrea - the third-weakest footballing country globally, according to Fifa.

"I wouldn't really say much on that, given the fact that I only saw the result. But surely the boys know what's at stake, and probably gave it all they could," said Shitembi.

"It's good that we got two away goals, but obviously the job isn't done yet. So, we need to go out tomorrow and give it our all again."

Samaria wants his side to stamp home their authority on proceedings, now that they are familiar with the opposition who, on the evidence of the first leg, refused to be bullied by the Brave Warriors.

"We did not know them well, but we did well. Now, they are an open book, and surely our planning will be be different," Samaria told the NFA website yesterday.

"They had about seven Europe-based players, and I understand they will add four more, so it will not be an easy game at all. It means they still believe, and that means we have to work very hard to get over the line," said the hard taskmaster.

Peter Shalulile, who scored one and forced the error for Namibia's second goal in Asmara, will retain the captain's armband, despite Shitembi's return. The forward intends to lead from the front, and atone for a hatful of missed chances last week.

"It was very surprising for me to be given the armband. I never thought I would lead the team this way, but equally, I'm glad I did," the Highlands Park marksman said.

"The players were very cooperative, and now playing at home, I have to keep doing what I can do, score and create for others to score. It comes with more responsibility, but for my national team, I can do this anytime," said Shalulile.

Should Namibia avoid a shock defeat, they will follow Ethiopia, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia in reaching the group stages.

Ethiopia led the way on Sunday courtesy of a 1-1 draw in Lesotho, a result that saw them advance on the away goals rule following a goalless stalemate in the first leg.

Tanzania celebrated progression to the second round after a 3-0 shoot-out victory over Burundi after playing out 1-1 draws in each leg.

Equatorial Guinea booked their group phase place thanks to Emilio Nsue's solitary strike in their return leg against South Sudan, the two sides having played out a 1-1 draw in the first.

In Sunday's final qualifier, Liberia, who were pelted with stones and manhandled by unruly Sierra Leonean fans during practise the day before, were indebted to their 18-year-old goalkeeper Ashley Williams for pulling off a magnificent injury-time penalty save to ensure the Lone Stars progressed 3-2 on aggregate.

Sierra Leone were leading 1-0 on the night, and needed another goal to go through on the away-goals rule, but the teenager saved the day. Liberia won the first leg 3-1.

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