Shilongo to Spark Misfiring Warriors

With an unforgiving football public on his back, Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti is banking on returning striker Benson Shilongo to fire a goal-shy Namibia past Mauritius in their second 2015 Cosafa Cup match on Tuesday evening.

The Brave Warriors made an underwhelming start to the competition on Sunday when being held to a goalless stalemate by minnows Seychelles.

Mannetti cast a frustrated and forlorn figure as his side squandered a glut of goalscoring opportunities in the one-sided encounter where Namibia had 28 shots on goal but managed just seven on target, while Seychelles registered just four goal attempts during the entire match.

In a bid to remedy the desperate situation, Mannetti has fast-tracked in-form Botswana-based Shilongo into the starting line-up.

Shilongo, who has a handful of senior international caps, missed the tournament opener due to club commitments in Gaborone.

“We have had enough of these now. I need to make drastic changes to the team and make sure we have someone who can score goals. I have tried all I have and now I need to bring in Benson Shilongo and see if he can answer our goal-scoring problem,” Mannetti told the NFA website.

Ironically, Shilongo has not been a favourite of Mannetti, having been on the fringes of the side during his two years as Brave Warriors coach.

However, Mannetti will now hope his new-found trust in the gifted frontman is not misplaced. Shilongo is likely to replace new recruit Nicky Musambani, who along with the calamitous Sadney Urikhob contrived to miss several sitters.

“Benson is here and ready to play. Everyone needs to play with a winning mentality in our final two games and that is what I am preaching ahead of these two crucial games,” Mannetti said.

Mauritius lost 2-0 to Zimbabwe, who lead Group A and are favourites to qualify for the quarterfinals.

Despite Saturday’s stuttering start to the competition, Mannetti is confident his side will reach the knockout stage.

“We dominated the game against Seychelles and we could have scored a lot of goals but they defended well and held their own. We got a draw and I believe we can go ahead and get the results we need against Zimbabwe and Mauritius. I believe my team has what it takes to win,” said Mannetti.

The Cosafa Cup action will be screened live on NBC 1 and SuperSport channel 209, from the Moruleng Stadium in the north west of South Africa.

Source : The Namibian