NAMIBIA's Afcon 2021 qualifying campaign got off to a great start with a 2-1 home win against Chad on Wednesday evening, but tougher assignments lie in store, starting with their encounter against Guinea in Conakry on Sunday.
The Warriors already left for Guinea yesterday, via Johannesburg and Addis Ababa, and now with three points in the bag they will go into that match with renewed confidence.
The win has put them at the top of Group A, with the other two teams, Guinea and Mali, who played last night, and national coach Bobby Samara said it had put them in a good position to qualify from the group.
"We'll see what the result is between Mali and Guinea, and if it's a draw then we will have the advantage on our side. We will go to Guinea and try and force a result, and if we can get a win then 50 percent of the qualification is done. We are absolutely going for a win," he said.
On Wednesday, Chad's physically imposing team disrupted Namibia from the start with their aggressive play, while their striker and captain Ezechiel Ndouasel was a constant menace with his pace and aerial dominance.
Marius Mouandilmadji and Morgan Betorangal also launched some telling attacks, but Namibia's defence kept them at bay, while goalie Loydt Kazapua brought off some confident saves.
At the other end, Peter Shalulile kept Chad's defence on their toes with his constant pressure, while Ryan Nyambe, who was making his home debut for Namibia, missed a great chance from a corner when he couldn't control the ball at the far post.
Absalom Iimbondi also came close with a deflected shot that was tipped for a corner, but Chad grew in confidence and nearly scored midway through the first half when a Ndouasel cross just eluded Mouandilmadji and Djibrine Bakhit in the box.
They finished the first half on the attack, winning two corners in a row, but Namibia's defence with Chris Katjiukua at the forefront kept them out, while Kazapua brought off a fine diving save from Ninga Ndonane.
Samaria took off right wingback Larry Horaeb after only 35 minutes, putting on striker Joslin Kamatuka, while Nyambe took over on the right, and Namibia started attacking more after the break.
Kamatuka came close on two occasions early on, first shooting over the crossbar after being put in space by Shalulile, and then shooting wide after cutting inside from the left wing.
More chances came, with a Shalulile shot being tipped for a corner, while Riaan Hanamub also sent in some telling crosses, and Namibia finally opened their account on 65 minutes when Hotto sent in a cross, and a shot by Shalulile deflected off the post and the back of Chadian keeper, Mathieu Adaoassou into the net.
The home fans' celebrations had barely died down, though, before Chad drew level. From the restart they forced a corner and Ndouasel rose high to send a thumping header into the back of the net.
Namibia, however, responded in style and with Elmo Kambindu replacing Absalom Iimbondi, they maintained their physical edge up front.
Less than ten minutes later they won two corners in quick succession and from the second, Chris Katjiukua steered the rebound home to restore their lead.
Kambindu also hit the back of the net, but his effort was ruled out for offside and in the closing stages Kazapua kept their lead intact when he rushed out to clear from Ninga Casmir.
Afterwards, Samaria said they were well prepared for their opponents, but had to change tactics in the second half.
"We knew these guys were on the tall side, because we watched their game against Liberia so their tactics were very evident - they played the long ball and then a knock-down going wide. We tried to block them, but I think in the first half my players did not arrive, because they were not aggressive and there was no urgency.
"In the second half we tried to change tactics, because in the first half we were going through the middle and there were numbers all the time. So then we started to stretch them wide and all of a sudden we looked much better and the chances started coming," he added.
Samaria said his early substitution of Horaeb had paid off.
"Larry was struggling against their striker (Ndouasel) - he's a bit huge, so we gave him Ryan (Nyambe), pound for pound he's also a fast boy and very strong, and then Ryan handled him very well.
The Brave Warriors will now be in confident mood ahead of the Guinea encounter on Sunday, but they can expect a tougher assignment against a country that is ranked much higher than Namibia.
Guinea is ranked 15th in Africa and 78th in the world, compared to Namibia's 30th and 119th places respectively, while Chad is only ranked 49th in Africa and 176th in the world.
Guinea will furthermore field a star-studded side of foreign-based professionals, with Liverpool star Naby Keita also being called up for the match.