NAMIBIA qualified for the 2020 African Nations Championship finals in Cameroon after beating Madagascar 2-0 in Windhoek on Saturday.
Two goals by their lanky striker Elmo Kambindu was enough as they held off late onslaughts by Madagascar to go through 2-1 on aggregate after losing the first leg 1-0 in Madagascar.
In an action-packed match, Namibia attacked from the onset and Kambindu immediately caused problems for the Madagascan defence. After barely 20 seconds he received a long through-ball and broke clear but Madagascar's goalie managed to avert the danger, and moments later Issaskar Gurirab shot wide after a cross by Ivan Kamberipa.
Namibia's early pressure told when they won a corner on 10 minutes and Kambindu rose high to head the ball into the net.
Kambindu continued to threaten and demonstrated some fine ball control, chesting down a high ball, but his shot was well saved by Madagascar keeper Fanomezantsoa Andoniana, while a long range shot by Namibia captain Dynamo Fredericks went narrowly wide of the target.
Madagascar started attacking more in the second quarter of the game, but Namibia keeper Edward Maova was solid in defence, saving efforts from Jan Razafindrakoto and Eliot Mbolatovo, while Herisoa Andriamamonjy also came close, blasting over the bar from a corner, but Namibia managed to keep them at bay, with Fredericks pulling off some fine tackles in midfield.
Namibia coach Bobby Samaria brought on tricky midfielder Wangu Gome for Immanuel Heita at the start of the second half and he soon made an impression with a cross into the box being headed wide by Absalom Iimbondi.
Gurirab also had a shot blocked by the defence, but Kambindu made it 2-0 four minutes into the second half when he ran onto a high ball to chip the ball over Andoniana into an empty net.
Madagascar started attacking more with Tsito Razafindrasata and Andriamamonjy both coming close, but Namibia remained dangerous on the counter-attack, with Absalom Iimbondi sending in some dangerous crosses from the right wing.
Panduleni Nekundi, who came on as a substitute for Issaskar Gurirab, displayed some fancy footwork and created a fine chance for Marcell Papama who blasted over the net, while a Emilio Martin free kick in the final stages went crashing into the wall.
Samaria further entrenched the defence in the final stages, bringing on Pat Uanivi for Kambindu, and bar one moment when Mbolatovo blasted over the bar from a counter attack, Namibia's defence kept them in check.
Namibia coach Bobby Samaria said their plans worked out to perfection.
"When we played them in Madagascar we already knew what we needed to do but we conceded a lousy goal in the last 10 seconds. There we realised that this team can play football and they can play the ball, so we decided to minimise that and to play the ball over their midfield. That's how we got our first goal and in the second half it was exactly the same - we played a long pass from the goal keeper over their midfield line and we scored. From there on we just had to protect our lead, so its all credit to the boys, I think they put in a super effort," he said.
With the local league still not in action, Samaria said they would continue to prepare with matches against regional teams.
"In the absence of local football we took the team to Mariental. We played out first match against Karas where we won 4-1, and then we played Hardap but there already we realised that we need more game time. So what we started in Mariental with the help of the normalisation committee who needs to provide us with the budget, we'll continue to take the team to the regions in the absence of a local league. So we will continue preparing, so that we can start preparing like a club team in the absence of a league," he said.