Namibia assistant coach Collin Benjamin has named 29 players for a training camp as they prepare to challenge Malawi, Mozambique and Seychelles when the 2019 COSAFA Cup gets under way in Durban on May 25.
Benjamin, who is one of the two assistants to head coach Ricardo Mannetti, revealed his squad of local-based players, along with two based in South Africa, namely goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua and winger Joslin Kamatuka.
The Brave Warriors training camp for COSAFA Cup starts on Tuesday morning at the NFA Technical Centre and coach Benjamin says the emphasis is on getting the team ready for the 2020 African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifier against Comoros at end of July.
“We aim to give these players the chance to play in these conditions and for them to raise their hands and be counted for the A team,” Benjamin says. “We have the Africa Cup of Nations coming up, everyone wants to be part of that team, and these players have the platform now to show us what they can offer.
“CHAN is a very important tournament for us and hence we will use the COSAFA Cup to prepare thoroughly for it. The target this year is not necessarily to win, given the abnormal situation we find ourselves in with preparations and focus,” Benjamin states.
The coach will have to reduce his squad to 20 players ahead of the COSAFA Cup tournament.
Namibia are in Group B and open their campaign on May 26 against Mozambique at the King Zwelithini Stadium, before a second match at the same venue on two days later against Malawi. They finish off group action against Seychelles on May 30 at the Princess Magogo Stadium.
The winners of the group will face Zambia in the quarterfinal set for June 2, also at Princess Magogo. The action will then move to the majestic Moses Mabhida Stadium as the loser plays in the Plate semi-finals set for June 4, while the winner proceeds to Cup semifinals a day later.
The Plate final is set for June 7 and so will the third-place play-off match. The COSAFA Cup final will be on June 8 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The Brave Warriors were the surprise package of the 1997 edition, finishing second to winners Zambia and in 1998 caused a major upset by knocking out World Cup finalists South Africa at the preliminary round stage.
In 1999, they made the final, and narrowly lost to Angola in extra-time in the second leg in Windhoek.
Their showing in Zambia in 2013 ended with a quarterfinal exit at the hands of South Africa, but two years later they stunned the region to claim a maiden victory in the competition.
They played six games in all, building momentum along the way before being crowned champions under coach Mannetti after beating Mozambique 2-0 in the final.
They followed that up with a win in the Plate final on home soil in 2016, and a year later were losing finalists in the Plate, beaten by hosts South Africa.
Namibia training squad for COSAFA Cup:
Ratanda Mbazuvara, Loydt Kazapua, Ikeinge Erasmus, Treasure Kauapirura, Larry Horaeb, Charles Hambira, Vitapi Ngaruka, Ivan Kamberipa, Emilio Martin, Aprocious Petrus, Edmund Kambanda, Absalom Iimbondi, Aubrey Amseb, Dynamo Fredericks, Immanuel Heita, Marcel Papama, Wesley Katjiteo, Revered Matroos, Wendell Rudath, Gustav Isaak, Llewelyn Stanley, Martin Shimaneni, Johanness Jackson, Isaskar Gurirab, Junias Theophilus, Joslyn Kamatuka and Quinton Kuruseb.
By Dan Kamati