Namibia featured in six matches before they claimed the 2015 COSAFA Castle Cup, the most games ever played in a single tournament and a long journey to the title for the Brave Warriors.
But Ricardo Mannetti’s side got better as the tournament went on, growing in confidence and writing their names into history in fine style.
Here is the story of how they claimed a maiden COSAFA Castle Cup title that they will defend on home soil from June 11-25 this year.
GROUP A – NAMIBIA 0 SEYCHELLES 0
May 17 – Moruleng Stadium
It was a low-key start for Namibia against a compact Seychelles who held their own in a tough battle. Mannetti’s side had their chances, but were without Botswana-based forward Benson Shilongo who arrived late due to club commitments. It was not a performance that suggested they would be lifting the trophy in 14 days’ time.
GROUP A – NAMIBIA 2 MAURITIUS 0
May 19 – Moruleng Stadium
If Namibia were to have any hopes of reaching the quarterfinals they needed a victory against the second island nation in their pool, Mauritius. Nerves were settled by an early Shilongo goal and Namibia continued to dominate, making the points safe midway through the second half as the striker completed his brace.
GROUP A – NAMIBIA 4 ZIMBABWE 1
May 21 – Moruleng Stadium
This was always likely to be a decider in the pool and so it proved. Zimbabwe were favourites having bagged two wins in the group so far, but they came up against Namibia side in rampant form. Chris Katjiukua netted in the opening 10 minutes, another early goal to give Namibia confidence, before a second half blitz put them in firm control. Speedy winger Deon Hotto got a brace, while Sadney Urikhob drilled home a fourth. Zimbabwe got a consolation through Raphael Manuvire.
QUARTERFINALS – ZAMBIA 0 NAMIBIA 0 (4-5 ON PENS)
May 24 – Moruleng Stadium
A tense quarterfinal against four-time winners Zambia was always going to be a stern test and so it proved, but Namibia held their own and forced the game to penalties. Zambia had perhaps edged the battle in the 90 minutes, but lost their cool in the shoot-out as Emmanuel Mbola blazed his penalty over and the Brave Warriors scored all their spot-kicks.
SEMIFINALS – NAMIBIA 3 MADAGASCAR 2
May 28 – Moruleng Stadium
A COSAFA Castle Cup classic that saw four goals scored in the first 26 minutes as the teams were locked at 2-2. A Shilongo brace had put Namibia in firm control and with healthy lead, but two goals in as many minutes from Sarivahy Vombola brought the islanders level. The game could have gone either way from there, with both sides missing chances, but Peter Shalulile popped up with a winner for Namibia seven minutes from time to set up their final appearance.
FINAL – NAMIBIA 2 MOZAMBIQUE 0
May 31 – Moruleng Stadium
By now Namibia were full of confidence and they took the game to final opponents Mozambique, opening the scoring 10 minutes before halftime with an excellent team goal that ended with Deon Hotto chipping over the Mambas keeper. The game ebbed and flowed from end-to-end before Hotto netted his second on 74 minutes to put Namibia firmly in the driving seat. They were able to see out the game and set of wild celebrations as the whistle blew for fulltime.