BRAVE Warriors head coach Ricardo Mannetti is aiming to have a formidable team by June when the senior national side returns to competitive action.
On Thursday, the 41 year-old tactician announced plans to whip his unfit and action-deprived home-based charges into shape, ahead of the 2017 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations' (Cosafa) Cup, and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and 2018 African Nations Championships (Chan) qualifiers.
In view of the nearly 11 months without competitive football domestically, Mannetti has earmarked four training camps for the entire month of April to assess “some new players, and others who I have worked with in the past”.
The first group begin training on Tuesday, 4 April at the NFA Technical Centre in Windhoek.
The exercise is to supplement game time in the Debmarine Namibia Cup, a knockout competition which sees the top-flight clubs join the fray next month, and the Namibia Premier League, which is set to kick off on 12 May.
“The national team has a very busy schedule, starting in June with an Afcon qualifier away to Guinea Bissau. Therefore, I've decided to start early [with preparations]. Our mission is to qualify for the 2019 Afcon. So, we're not gonna sit around and say 'there's no football'. That's why we're starting early to make sure we are prepared when the time comes to represent our nation,” Mannetti told reporters at an information-sharing session in Windhoek.
Indeed, his future at the helm rests on leading the Brave Warriors to Africa's showpiece football competition in Cameroon next year, to mark only a third appearance for Namibia at the finals.
Namibia are drawn against Zambia, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau in Group K for Afcon 2019 qualification.
The group stage's opening round is scheduled for 5-13 June when Namibia travel to Guinea-Bissau before hosting Zambia in Windhoek on match-day two in March 2018.
“Even with our current situation, it gives me hope that if we prepare better than before, I'm positive that we will get a good result against Guinea Bissau, who are our only concern right now,” said Mannetti.
“Remember that we play only the one match in Guinea Bissau, and the other matches are next year. So by then, the league would have started, and our players would have gained match fitness,” Mannetti stated.
The Cosafa Cup tournament in South Africa starts the week after the first Afcon qualifier.
“Therefore, I've decided to start training two months ahead of time. I'm positive that we can make it for 2019,” he added.
Mannetti intends to use the same squad for the Afcon qualifier and Cosafa, with a sprinkling of his Chan side which takes on Zimbabwe in the second round of qualification, with the winner set to face either Lesotho or Comoros on the road to Kenya 2018.
The Brave Warriors host Zimbabwe on the weekend of 15-16 July, and the second leg is scheduled for Zimbabwe between 21 and 23 July.
“We need to work our socks off. We must make sure that we prepare these specific players well and bring them to a match fitness level that's required for international football,” Mannetti explained.
The first training group is as follows: Lloydt Kazapua (African Stars) David Peterson (Tigers), Charles Uirab (Orlando Pirates), Edward Maova (Civics FC), Romario Ndjavera and Ferdinand Karongee (Tigers), Tiberius Lombard and Charles Hambira (both Tura Magic), Larry Horaeb (Black Africa), Da Costa Angula (Unattached), Riaan !Hanamub (Orlando Pirates), Edmund Kambanda (Unam FC), Ronald Ketjijere and Katiti Hakuria ( both African Stars), Benyamin Nenkavu (Tigers), Johannes Shiwedha (Nampol), Oswaldo Xamseb (Tura Magic), Dynamo Fredericks (Black Africa), Pandeni Kandjabanga (Golden Bigs), Donald Geiseb (Civics), Itamunua Keimuine (Tura Magic), Mapenzi Muwanei (Tigers), Fransisco Almeida and Joseph Mbudhi ( both United Stars)
- Title: Warriors to work socks off - Mannetti
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- Date: 12:10 PM