Ricardo Mannetti has spoken of the importance of the COSAFA Cup in developing Namibian football and he relived the historic triumph for the country in the 2015 edition in South Africa.
The Namibia coach is preparing his squad for the 2018 COSAFA Cup that will be staged in South Africa’s Limpopo province from May 27-June 9, where Namibia will enter in the quarterfinal stage against Zambia on June 2.
He says the team’s triumph three years ago, arguably the greatest moment in Namibian football history, brought belief back to the team and was an important stepping stone in their development.
“It was something historic, it was something that united the nation once again. Sports and football specifically gives a nation hope and I think that is what the experience was all about,” Mannetti said.
“We made history by lifting the cup and I think people then started believing. Remember, before then it was also tough for us. There were a lot of questions – where are we, where are we going, is Mannetti the right guy to lead the team?
“It all came together in 2015. On the pitch we had a very strong team, a good balance between youth and experienced players. “It was something that was good for the country and good for the fans to know that we were getting somewhere.”
Mannetti will once again bringing a strong squad to the 2018 edition, saying he does not have the luxury of being able to experiment with his squad. “For us as the Namibian Football Association and the national team, the COSAFA Cup is a very important tournament. We want to win it every time we play in it and we want to take our strongest team. We don’t want to experiment when we go to COSAFA,” the coach said.
“Other countries have that luxury because they have the numbers [of players], we don’t. So for us the COSAFA Cup is huge for the NFA, for myself, for the players and for the fans.
“We always make sure we prepare well and give our best when we go to the COSAFA Cup.”
Mannetti says he is looking for more harmony from his team this year after they lost the Plate final to South Africa in 2017.
“Last year I was not happy. The dressing room was not united, and it showed in our performances,” he said. “The dressing room is not something I will compromise. There are good players with big names, but (who are) not good for the dressing room.
“I am not the type of coach that works with a top player with a bad attitude. I would rather take an average player with a top attitude. That is my management style, which has brought us this far.
“The moment certain players think they are bigger than the team or the nation, I cannot work with them. “After every tournament, we have an evaluation, and you look at every player’s contribution to the collective. We analysed and got to the bottom of it. We decided a certain attitude is not going to cut it.
“I have taken a strong stand to ensure that dressing room harmony does not get disturbed by individuals who have other agendas.”
The Brave Warriors preliminary squad:
Ratanda Mbazuvara (African Stars), Maximillian Mbaeva (Golden Arrows) Edward Maova (Civics), Ferdinand Karongee (Tigers), Vitapi Ngaruka (Black Africa), Tiberius Lombard (Lusaka Dynamos), Danzil Haoseb (Jomo Cosmos), Donovan Kanjaa (Young African), Riaan Hanamub (Orlando Pirates), Charles Hambira (Tura Magic), Emilio Martin (Black Africa), Ananias Gebhardt (Jomo Cosmos), Ronald Ketjijere (African Stars), Gustav Isaak, Absalom Iimbondi (both Tigers), Ikuaterua Hoveka (Young African), Wangu Gome (Platinum Stars), Marcel Papama (UNAM), Willem Pinehas (Eleven Arrows), Peter Shalulile (Highlands Park), Deon Hotto (Bloemfontein Celtic), Panduleni Nekundi (African Stars), Itamunua Keimuine (Tura Magic).