Namibian Youngsters Reflect On Copa Coca Cola Cup

6 December 2019

The Namibian youngsters, who represented the country at the ongoing 2019 Copa Coca-Cola Africa Cup in Thika, Kenya, have described as priceless the experience and exposure they gained at the youth tournament.

Although Namibia was knocked out of the competition by regional rivals Zimbabwe in the quarterfinals, the Namibian youngsters seized the moment and cherished the opportunity to represent their country on the continental arena.

Namibia lost both her two group games against Uganda but, however, managed to proceed to the quarterfinals on the ticket of Ethiopia, who failed to show up the tournament. In the quarterfinals, the young Namibians gave it their best shot against Zimbabwe but their southern African neighbours were too much to handle as they went to beat Namibia 4-1, an outcome that eventually saw Namibia bowing out of the competition.

The New Era Sport crew caught up with some of the team's youngsters at their base in Thika, and team captain Giovanni Gaingob said the rainy and chilly weather in Thika wasn't the best, as it made it hard for them to go about their business, but however maintain it doesn't take much away from the importance and magnitude of the tournament.

"The weather here wasn't favouring us, as rain has been pouring nonstop since we arrived in Kenya. I think it (weather) had a bad impact on the way we played, as the field was very slippery and that partly denied us the results," Gaingob said.

Adding to the conversation was goalkeeper Elia Katokeni, who mostly touched on their overall performance, saying they were not brave enough to bring out their best and play good football as envisioned. Katokeni said although Namibia crushed out of the competition earlier than planned, they learnt valuable lessons and gained a lot of experience from the competition, especially given the fact that it was their first appearance at the continental youth tourney. "The weather was really bad, as it gave us tough time to cope on the field. The boys couldn't even control the ball properly, as the pitch was slippery.

But nevertheless, it was a good experience and an opportunity for us to learn and improve on our mistakes as a team. This competition also taught us discipline on and off the field," added an impressed Katokeni.

John Araeb was also agreed with Katokeni, saying the competition helped them improve their playing style and equally motivated them to work even harder going forward.

"Although we fell off in the early stages of the tournament, it has helped us to know what we need to work on next time. It has given us that morale to bounce back. We also learnt a lot from our opponents, as they showed us how to play good football - and that's something we'll have to work on when we go back home," expressed Araeb.

The Namibian team is composed of participants who were selected from the various secondary schools that participated in the re-launched Namibian version of the Copa Coca-Cola tournament.

The Copa Coca-Cola Cup is the premier worldwide grassroots football tournament that unlocks the dreams and possibilities of global football stars. It also aims to inspire young footballers to achieve their dreams through a renowned and respected football tournament in various countries globally, which continues to give voice to the faces who nurture the budding talents of young football heroes, as it showcases Africa's pride and belief in upcoming youngsters.

In Africa, the Copa Coca-Cola Cup is played in 22 countries, including Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, Rwanda, Congo, Swaziland, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mauritius and Burundi.

Outside the continent, the tourney is also played in the Americas, Europe and Asia. The tournament originated in Zimbabwe in 1989, with the aim of seeking to support the development of potential grassroots talent and promote active, healthy lifestyles among young people.

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