Namibian futsal will make history when a national team competes in their first-ever international match against Tanzania in Windhoek tomorrow.
After the league started nearly four years ago, the sport has grown by leaps and bounds, while the code was affiliated to the Namibia Football Association towards the end of last year. This paved the way to international competition, resulting in Namibia’s participation in the Afcon 2024 qualifiers, where ten teams will battle it out for places at the 2024 CAF Africa Futsal Cup of Nations to be hosted in the Moroccan city of Laayoune from 8 to 17 April.
Three teams have gained direct entry to the Afcon finals, namely the hosts and defending champions, Morocco, Egypt and Angola, while Mauritania booked their place in the finals after beating Cameroon on aggregate over two qualifying legs. Ten more nations will now be involved in home and away qualifiers over the next two weeks to battle it out for the remaining five places at the Afcon finals.
Namibia take on Tanzania with the home leg taking place at the Sports Plaza at the Windhoek Showgrounds tomorrow evening, while the return leg is set for the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam on 9 February.
In the other qualifiers, Mozambique take on Zambia, Libya take on Algeria, and Ghana take on the Ivory Coast.
The top three teams at Afcon 2024 will qualify for the 2024 Fifa Futsal World Cup to be held in Uzbekistan from 14 September to 6 October.
Namibia, meanwhile, have been hard at work preparing for their international debut, according to national futsal coordinator Andrei Tirirau.
“The boys are in camp and the spirits are high. They’ve had an intense week of training twice a day, and they are ready to go. The coach has done a fantastic job, while we also brought some consultants on board – an assistant coach, a psychologist and a fitness and conditioning coach,” he said, adding that he expected a packed crowd at tomorrow’s match.
“It will be Namibia’s first home match in about three years, due to the unavailability of CAF-required stadia, so we are expecting a big crowd to cheer the boys on. So far ticket sales have gone well, and I expect the hall to be packed – we can accommodate about 700 people maximum, so I urge fans to get their tickets online, well on time,” he said.
Tickets are available online at N$50 from webtickets.com.na or from Pick ’n Pay, or at the gate at N$80 per person.
Tirtirau said he did not know much about Tanzania, but was confident that Namibia can win to qualify for the Afcon finals.
“We don’t know anything about Tanzania, and they are also competing in the Afcon qualifiers for the first time. But I think our boys are gelling really well, and I am confident that we can beat Tanzania and go to the finals. I don’t want to sound too confident, but let’s say I’m quietly optimistic,” he said.
Namibia coach Donawald Modise said they are well prepared.
“We’ve been training for four and a half weeks now and went into camp on Monday. The players are energetic and hungry and the coaching staff is very happy with their progress. They are fit and healthy and ready to go,” he said.
“I’m positive and at the end of the day it’s all about the hunger and the game we produce on match day,” he added.
The Namibian technical team has also been strengthened by the appointment of English futsal specialist coach Ryan Jago, who holds a Uefa Futsal B License and offered to assist the team as a volunteer coach.
The Namibian team is dominated by players from Ballers Futsal Club, with five representatives, while the defending league champions Quality FC have three representatives.
The rest of the team is made up of two representatives each from Selecao FC, Windhoek FC and Chile FC.
The Namibian team is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Cee-Jay van Wyk (Selecao Futsal Club), Riya Usura (Ballers Futsal Club).
Outfield players: Nanguei Kamatuka, Daniel Kagiso (both Windhoek Futsal Club); Donald Modise, Wesley Otto, Maximilian Boll, George Haikali (all Ballers Futsal Club); Eduardo Solunga, Luis Solunga, Ken Salote (all Quality Futsal Club); Remario Mathys, Johannes Naitete (both Chile Futsal Club); and Vilo Lawrence (Selecao Futsal Club).
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