Namibia Drawn in Tough Group

NAMIBIA were drawn in Group B along with Burkina Faso, Tunisia and the Central Africa Republic when the draw for next month's Africa u20 Cup of Nations finals was made yesterday.

For the first time, a total of 12 nations will compete at the tournament - up from eight two years ago - while the top four teams will qualify for the 2021 Fifa u20 World Cup in Indonesia.

The hosts Mauritania has been drawn in Group A, along with Cameroon, Uganda and the Cosafa champions Mozambique, while Group C consists of Ghana, Tanzania, Gambia and Morocco.

Namibia coach James Britz said it was a tough group but he sounded upbeat about their chances.

"It's a very strong group, but we will go out there and fight. I've already seen a video of Burkina Faso and they have big, strong and physical players. I don't have an idea of the other two teams, but these are the top 12 teams in Africa so it will be very tough," he said.

Of the Group B teams, only Burkina Faso have qualified for the finals before, with Tunisia and CAR making their debuts, along with Namibia. As such, Britz said they had just as good a chance as the other teams to make the knockout stages of the tournament.

"Tunisia and CAR are also making their debuts, like us, so I think it's quite an open group and we have just as much of a chance as them to make the quarterfinals. The tournament as a whole is wide open with seven of the 12 countries all making their debuts," he said.

This will be the 23rd edition of the biennial Africa u20 Cup of Nations since its inception in 1977 when Morocco beat Guinea 4-0 in a two-legged final home and away.

Nigeria are the most successful nation in the tournament's history having won the title on seven occasions, followed by Egypt with four titles and Ghana with three, while seven other nations have won the title on one occasion.

Angola, who won in 2001, and Zambia (in 2017) are the most successful southern African nations, while the other one-time winners are Cameroon, Mali, Algeria, Morocco and Congo.

Mali are the defending champions after beating Senegal 3-2 on penalties in the 2019 final.

Britz, meanwhile, announced his final training squad of 30 players, after dropping 11 players following further training matches over the weekend.

Ït was a tough decision, but I could only choose 30 players. The squad might still be trimmed down further, but we will wait to hear from the organisers," he said.

"But those who were dropped mustn't despair, because we will definitely call some of them up again for the Cosafa Cup at the end of the year," he said.

Several players had picked up new injuries after two training matches over the weekend, but Britz said they were not too serious.

"We are busy with their rehabilitation and they have already started with strengthening and training, so I hope that they will be fit soon again. Our main injury concerns were Steven Damaseb and Prins Tjiueza, but they have recovered and took part in our training matches over the weekend, so that's a relief," he said.

The Namibia 30-man squad is as follows:

Jovane Narib, Ngero Katua, Garere Damaseb and Phillip Joseph (all Otjizondjupa); Promise Gurirab, Tuhafeni Davids, Prins Tjiueza, Steven Damaseb, Herman Uwuseb, Gerson Paulus (Erongo); Pitsi Ameb, Immanuel Amunyela, Romin Berndt, Romeo Amon, Xavier McClune, Edmar Kamatuka, Tuli Nashixua, Ro-Giano Goagoseb, Carl Karuuombe, Penouua Kandjii, Denzil Narib, Felippo Micheletti (Khomas); Ruhaka Ngatangwe, Ngazikue Kandetu (Omaheke); Geovanni Kaninab, Gonzales Tsuseb (Kunene); Juninho Jantze (Hardap); Mwanyekange Matheuws (Omusati); Joseph Erastus (Oshana), and Eubrahim Appollus (Kharas).

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