Former Brave Warriors coach and captain Ricardo Mannetti cautioned Collin Benjamin’s squad to remain focused as they prepare for their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) group E encounter against Bafana Bafana on Sunday.
“We need to keep our feet on the ground. Hotto, Shitembi, Nyambe, Junior, Lloyd, keep your feet on the ground and tell the youngsters to keep their feet on the ground as well so that we don’t get blown away by the history we made,” Mannetti warned on Tuesday.
He was speaking at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo, Ivory Coast, where Namibia shocked the football community by beating Tunisia 1-0 and sending the stadium as well as the entire Namibia into jubilation.
The Brave Warriors entered the game as underdogs, being the lowest ranked nation at the tournament.
In a game where Tunisia dominated possession, Benjamin’s outfit did well to avoid conceding any goals thanks to a number of world-class saves from Lloyd Kazapua.
Both teams pressed and attacked to no avail until Deon Hotto sneaked in at the back post to head in a Bethuel Muzeua cross from the opposite end of the pitch in the 88th minute.
“Muzeua was very deliberate . . . It was the best assist I have seen at Afcon up to now, and Deon Hotto obviously coming through. Big player. Big match,” Manetti said.
With Namibians still beaming over their victory, Benjamin’s history-making squad will face a wounded Bafana Bafana, who lost 2-0 to Mali after the Warriors v Tunisia game on Tuesday in the same arena.
The yellow-and-green started the game on the front foot, with superstars Themba Zwane and Percy Tau creating chances until a video assistant referee intervention awarded them a penalty early in the game.
Tau stepped up and skyrocketed the spot kick, leaving the game to turn on its head in the second half for Hugo Broos’ men.
Mali scored the first goal of the game in the 60th minute, then six minutes later put a second goal in the net, courtesy of Lassine Sinayoko.
Namibia will need to beat South Africa in order to boost their chances of qualifying for the Afcon knockout stages, but also to better their record of seven defeats in 13 games since 1998.
The Brave Warriors will look to avenge the painful 1998 defeat in the same competition after Benni McCarthy put four past current Brave Warriors assistant coach Ronnie Kanalelo.
This has inspired kwaito group TKZee’s most famous song, ‘Shibobo’, which made reference to McCarthy’s four goals.
Congo Hindjou, a player in that game, yesterday said Sunday presents the perfect opportunity for Namibia to avenge the song and the game.
“Being beaten 4-1 was very, very bad . . . Come Sunday, the boys have to make history again by beating South Africa for the first time at Afcon.
“Peter Shalulile should score five goals so Tate Buti can make a song for us about those goals,” the midfield legend said.
South Africa would equally need to win Sunday’s encounter if they want to go beyond the group stages of the tournament.
The historical relationship between Namibia and South Africa dates back to 1998, marking their first football match post-apartheid.
Over the years, these two sides have faced each other 13 times, with Bafana Bafana holding a significant advantage over the Brave Warriors in their head-to-head clashes.
South Africa have won seven games, while Namibia have won two, with the spoils shared four times – most recently in September last year.
In 1998, the iconic Brave Warriors squad included Hindjou, Kanalelo and Bimbo Tjihero.
In their first encounter at the 1998 Cosafa Cup, Bafana tasted their first defeat, losing 3-2 in that year’s Cosafa Cup in Windhoek.
South Africa tasted revenge at Afcon later that year, beating Namibia 4-1 in Burkina Faso.
The millennium ended in Namibia’s favour as the 1999 Cosafa Cup quarter-final ended 1-1, with the Brave Warriors winning 4-1 on penalties.
Since 2000, South Africa have beaten Namibia six teams and with three draws.
Namibia Football Association (NFA) spokesperson Cassius Moeti says the NFA is confident the Brave Warriors would make more history come Sunday.
Moeti believes the victory against Tunisia has given Namibia an edge.
“After that victory it’s a much stronger team than before, and we are not fearing any of the remaining two teams (South Africa and Mali) that we have to play.
“We will collect maximum points and will be the only team to win all our games in that group,” he said.
Moeti made reference to Namibia’s journey to the tournament, which included stalemates against South Africa and Ghana.
“These two countries are superpowers in their own right and we drew against them. We did not draw, because these countries felt it was a friendly.
“A friendly ahead of an international competition is a serious match, because the outcome has a psychological effect on the players,” he added.
Brave Gladiators legend Julien Garises was as confident that the Namibian outfit would take all three points against their neighbours.
She believes South Africa entered the tournament too cocky, which has disadvantaged them.
“It was good that they were humbled. I believe this is our time. These boys have shown us. South Africa is in for a big surprise,” she said.
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