Brave Warriors rebuild in motion

Tjipe Karuuombe of Namibia challenges Hamza Rafia of Tunisia during their Fifa World Cup Qualifier 2026 match at Orlando Stadium on the 09 June 2024 in Soweto, Johannesburg. BackpagePix

With the right conditions in place, the rebuilding Brave Warriors can be a formidable unit, says head coach Collin Benjamin.

That was his assessment of the team following Sunday’s goalless Fifa World Cup qualifying stalemate against Tunisia.

Namibia are proving to be a thorn in the Tunisians side, having also contributed to their early exit from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with a famous 1-0 group stage win.

Just like when they were pegged 1-1 by Liberia on Wednesday, the new-look Warriors were at times devoid of a cutting edge and did not get the rub of the green, says Benjamin, who gave six players their first taste of international football over the two matches.

However, their effort and attitude were commendable as they managed another clean sheet against Tunisia, who are on a mission to qualify for a seventh World Cup.

“I have to say that I’m really proud of my team. The aggression, the fighting spirit, the hunger, the willingness to close the spaces, that really impressed me and showed us that we’re on a good way. It’s a rebuilding process, and we could create our chances through these transitions,” says Benjamin.

The two draws leave Namibia trailing Group H leaders, Tunisia, by two points.

On both occasions, the Brave Warriors had two dubious calls go against them which could have swayed the outcome in their favour.

Namibia had a loud penalty shout ignored after Deon Hotto was felled in the penalty box in the second half of the clash against Liberia.

They then saw Charles Hambira’s first half goal disallowed against Tunisia when the North African’s goalkeeper Bechir Said spilled Hotto’s freekick before the centre-back bundled the ball into the net.

Mauritanian referee Dahane Beida adjudged that Erastus Kulula had fouled Said after he spilt the ball, although there was minimal contact.

“We are hungry. We could press them. And, in that first half, I think we created a good two, three (scoring) chances. Second half, we came out also very strongly. From that whole game, seeing Tunisia having three corners, it’s really good,” Benjamin says.

He says going into battle without a number of key regulars made the assignment that much harder. But the new faces did not disappoint and displayed the character Benjamin demands of a national team player.

Before Sunday’s clash, Benjamin bemoaned the ‘abnormal’ situation of continuing to play their home matches in empty venues abroad.

This advantages their rivals and denies his youthful team their adoring fans, which is a game-changer.

A vociferous home atmosphere may have influenced the calls that went against the Brave Warriors.

“’They have to be pushed by the people, they have to be pushed by the crowd and that’s how they excel, that’s why the top players actually when they leave this colosseum they feel like they have lost something. I’m not going to talk it away and say it’s normal, it’s abnormal,” says Benjamin.

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