Namibia: New Call-Ups Impress in Training Match

Some exciting new talent was on display when the national u20 squad played a training match at the NFA technical centre on Saturday in preparation for next month's Afcon u20 Championships.

Namibia made history in December by qualifying for their first ever Afcon u20 finals when they finished second at the Cosafa u20 Championships, but with numerous regular players out injured, 20 more players were recently added to the squad and several grabbed their opportunity with some fine performances.

They included Herman Uwuseb, an attacking midfielder from the Erongo region; the Kharas midfielder Prins Apollus; the Erongo defender Gerson Paulus; the Khomas defensive midfielder Mathias Shipanga; the Omusati defender Mathews Manyekange; and the Kunene striker Gonzales Tsuseb.

Especially Uwuseb caught the eye as he was the stand-out player for the 'Blue' team in their 6-4 defeat against the 'Red' team.

The Red team initially seemed to be far too strong as they took a 6-2 lead by half time, but with Uwuseb and second half replacement Juninho Jantze leading the Blue team's comeback, they rallied back strongly after the break.

The Red team included established national players like Promise Gurirab, Ngazikue Kandetu, Denzil Narib, Pitsi Ameb, Romeo Amon and Giovanni Kaninab, while the Blue team's regular national squad members included Immanuel Hamunyela, Tuhafeni Davids, Xavier McClune and Jeovanni Narib.

The Red team soon took control of matters with Denzil Narib and Pitsi Ameb controlling the midfield, and opened their account on 19 minutes through a great shot by Ameb that hit the roof of the net.

Gonzales Tsuseb soon made it 2-0, breaking into the box from the left wing and scoring from close range, but Uwuseb opened the Blue team's account with a fine free kick that curled into the corner.

The Red team, however, started to control matters with Ngazikue Kandetu making it 3-1 after shooting in a loose ball from a corner, while further goals by Giovanni Kaninab and Prins Apollus put them 5-1 ahead after 45 minutes.

Joseph Erastus pulled a goal back for the Blue team with a penalty, but another fine solo goal by Ameb put the Reds 6-2 ahead at the half time break.

Hardap midfielder Juninho Jantze came on as a second half substitute for the Blue team and he made an immediate impression with his strong surges through the midfield.

Uwuseb, meanwhile, was a constant menace down the right wing, and their sustained attacks soon led to goals. Uwuseb scored his second from a corner clearance, lobbing a high ball over the keeper, while Mathias Shipanga made it 6-4 when his shot went in off the post.

In the closing stages, Uwuseb continued to torment the Reds defence, with one shot hitting the crossbar, while another was saved, but the Red team managed to hold on for the victory.

After the match, national coach, James Britz said several of the new players had impressed him.

"Some of the new boys in the squad really impressed me today. Herman Uwuseb from Erongo is very good and if he keeps on doing what he did today then he can make the team. Prins Apollus from the Kharas region also impressed me, as well as the centre back Gerson Paulus from Erongo and the defender Mathews Manyekange from Omusati. The goalie Joseph Phillips, who was previously in the squad but had to miss Cosafa due to exams, also had a good match and I think he will give our regular goalies a run for their money," he said.

Several top players, however, missed the match due to injury, including central midfielder and team captain Steven Damaseb; attacking midfielder Prins Tjiueza from Erongo; left back Penouua Kandji from Khomas; central defender Tuli Nashuxua from Khomas; and left wing Edmar Kamatuka from Khomas.

Britz, however, said they should be ready for the u20 Afrcon finals which are due to start in Mauritania on 14 February.

"I think our medics are capable of getting them right in time. We have a lot of injuries and they are crucial players for us and we must just work out a programme for them to get them fit and match fit as well," he said.

"We wanted to go to one of the west African countries to prepare and have some friendly matches, but the Covid-19 situation has made it difficult. If that doesn't work, we would like to go a week earlier to Mauritania to play some friendly matches, because we haven't played one friendly match yet," he added.

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