Brave Warriors On Verge of History

Namibia’s male national football team, the Brave Warriors, last night qualified for this year’s edition of the Cosafa Cup after overcoming a stubborn Madagascar.

This is the first time in 16 years, since 1999, that Namibia has qualified for the final of this regional tournament. In global terms, Cosafa is a lightweight competition that has nothing to write home about, but at Namibian level this would be the biggest silverware won by the Warriors to date.

Our participation in the 1998 and 2008 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournaments had been that – a mere participation. Also, we have never come anywhere close to qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, arguably the world’s biggest sporting event.

But we draw inspiration from the fact that even the Italian capital Rome – a sprawling cosmopolitan city with nearly 3 000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture – was not built in a day.

On that basis, our players must strive to win this tournament tomorrow when they meet the winner of last night’s match between neighbours Botswana and Mozambique.

Winning the Cosafa Cup would be a perfect stepping stone for the Brave Warriors to aim for bigger football honours such as AFCON and the World Cup.

Globally, football has drastically changed such that there is no longer such thing as minnows and underdogs. The two references are fast losing meaning, thanks to lasting changes observed in football over the last decade.

In Africa, Nigeria and Egypt were among the most feared footballing nations of note but today any country fancies beating them fairly and squarely.

When Namibia faced Zimbabwe in the same tournament last week, only a handful of commentators gave us a chance. South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) is littered with high-profile Zimbabwean footballers playing for top sides such as Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns.

A host of other Zimbabwean players are based in European leagues. Against that background, coupled with the fact that Namibian players in South Africa play for smaller teams such as Golden Arrows (Deon Hotto and Chris Katjiukua) and Maritzburg United (Virgil Vries), it was fair for armchair critics to write us off.

But they somewhat did this at their own peril, because the Brave Warriors went on to beat Zambia – 2012 African champions and reigning Cosafa champions – before ushering Madagascar to the exit door of this year’s competition.

Winning this competition tomorrow would therefore be the icing on the cake and a motivation boost for the upcoming AFCON qualifiers, with our first match away in Niamey against Niger.

But even if the Warriors were to lose the final, which we pray will not be the case, this would not erase the heroics of our boys in South Africa where this tournament is being held.

It was a slow start after we drew our first match against island lightweights Seychelles. But even the result of that match was enough evidence that indeed there are hardly any underdogs in contemporary football.

Nobody, for example, gave Zambia any slightest of chances against Ivory Coast in the 2012 AFCON final. While Zambia relied on the likes of the Katongo brothers (Christopher and Felix), Ivory Coast unleashed their European exports of Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba and Gervinho, among a host of other stars.

But because, as they say these days, the ball is round, the unexpected happened. Irrespective of what happens in the Cosafa final this weekend, Namibia’s overall performance must draw government’s attention to the need to invest more in the sport.

Sports unite nations. Sports help young people to preoccupy themselves with productive activities and, as proven by the likes of Drogba, Floyd Mayweather and Usain Bolt, create wealth too.

Source : New Era