Namibia’s national futsal team got a rude introduction to international competition when they slumped to a 5-2 defeat to Tanzania in an Afcon first leg qualifying match in Windhoek on Saturday.
Playing in front of a packed hall of about 600 people, Tanzania took control early on to build a 3-0 lead by half time, and although Namibia made a spirited comeback it wasn’t enough as the visitors ran out comfortable winners.
Tanzania now hold a three-goal advantage going into the second leg match in Dar es Salaam on 9 February, and are strong favourites to qualify for the 2024 Afcon finals in Morocco in April.
In an electric atmosphere at the Windhoek Showgrounds’ Sport Plaza Tanzania did the early attacking with Is-Haka Mwinyi and Adam Abdallah both shooting wide, while Namibian keeper and captain Cee-Jay van Wyk brought off fine saves to deny Mwinyi and Jamal Ally.
Tanzania’s pressure told when David Jangandu gave them the lead, shooting in from a corner rebound, and barely two minutes later it was 2-0 when Ally finished off a patient build-up, involving numerous passes.
Namibia seemed shell-shocked, but they started to make a comeback as Ken Salote, George Haikali and Vilho Lawrence all came close to scoring, while Tanzania keeper Derick Kanyana brought off a fine save to deny Salote.
Tanzania, however, weathered the storm and took a decisive 3-0 lead just before halftime when they won a penalty and Abdallah scored from the spot.
Namibia upped their game in the second halfand came out attacking, with Haikali hitting the post, and having a cracking shot tipped over for a corner. Kanyana, however, launched an incisive attack, cutting through Namibia’s defence, to score a great solo goal and put Tanzania in command at 4-0.
With the crowd urging them on Namibia came back strongly, with a cracking long-range shot by Nanguei Kamatuka hitting the crossbar, before Maximillian Boll opened their account, when he scored from a freekick.
Namibia poured forward with Haikali and Luis Solunga coming close to scoring, but Tanzania went 5-1 ahead when they won a penalty and Abdallah scored from the spot.
Namibia, however, kept on attacking and got a consolation goal in the final minute when a cracking shot by Lawrence hit the roof of the net.
‘A tough match’ – Van Wyk
Namibian captain Cee-Jay van Wyk said it was a tough match.
“It was tougher than we expected, but I’m hoping that we can learn from this higher level of competition that we gained, and that we can put that to good use next time,” he said.
“Our minds were a bit off and I think we were just a bit nervous, because it was our first international match, but we will bounce back stronger mentally and physically. We are disappointed that we let our fans down, we will work on it and we will make them happy, I promise,” he added.
The organiser of Futsal Namibia, Andrei Tirtirau said Tanzania took them by surprise.
“It was a very difficult game and I think Tanzania came really well prepared. We were also well-prepared, but I think they took us by surprise, and our boys were a bit nervous in the beginning, because they were playing their first international match in front of a big crowd. But I think we played well and have a good team, we just didn’t capitalise on our chances. We just have to regroup and restrategise now and prepare for the return leg match in Dar es Salaam,” he said.
“Obviously it won’t be easy (to beat Tanzania), but it’s futsal, the goals come very quickly and the game can change immediately. We still have the hope of making it to Morocco but it will be difficult – we are playing away, but I think the boys will be in high spirits and we will definitely give them a run for their money,” he added.
Tirtirau expressed gratitude for the high turnout of fans at the match.
“I’m extremely impressed, I think we had about 500 to 600 people here, which is really amazing to see how much support we got from a Namibian perspective. I really hope you guys watch us online, and we need to keep this momentum going, it’s the only way,” he said.
Namibia’s minister of sport AgnesTjongarero, who was also present at the match, said it was very exciting.
“It was very exciting – for some of us it was the first time that we saw futsal and we didnt know what was always happening, like those fouls and then its a penalty, but it’s very exciting,” she said, adding that she expected Namibia to win handsomely in Dar es Salaam.
“We were unlucky, this is the first time, so when we go to Tanzania next week you will hear that Namibia beat Tanzania 6-0 – that is what’s going to happen,” she said.
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