Warriors Gear Up to Clear Final Hurdle – Mannetti Warns Against Complacency

Despite defying all odds staked against them by reaching the semi-finals of the Cosafa Cup Challenge – failure to carve a place in the final would be considered a major catastrophe, according to utility centre back Dudes Mwedihanga.

A much-relaxed Mwedihanga was speaking ahead of today’s penultimate semi-final clash against Madagascar in the regional Cosafa Cup at their happy hunting ground, the Moruleng stadium in Rustenburg later today (16h00).

“Nobody gave us the slightest of chances to come thus far, but we managed to reach the semi-finals, certainly not by default because we deserved to be where we are now.

“There is no looking back we are taking this game very seriously while sticking to our usual game plan as we did from the beginning of the tournament,” said the towering defender confidently.

The Warriors have been in mean mood after a slow start to their campaign that saw them fashion a disappointing goalless draw against regional minnows Seychelles in their opening match.

The result left the Namibians with the unenviable task of having to win both their remaining group matches against Mauritius and the much-fancied Zimbabwe.

They did it in fine style opening the floodgates with a comprehensive 2-0 victory against the Indian Ocean islanders before bamboozling a hapless Zimbabwe 4-1 in the decisive quarterfinal match to book their place in the semi-final.

The Namibians are fully aware of the danger posed by the Indian Ocean islanders. It was the very same Madagascar who eliminated Namibia (3-0) from the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 1993.

However, Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti has assembled a formidable team and many believe this is one of the finest talent to have ever emerged from our shores with hundreds of supporters already making travelling plans for the long journey to Rustenburg by road to watch the final on Saturday.

“This is the best Brave Warriors side to date, these boys will make history because they are playing beautiful football while the defensive play is also very solid,” said a former Warriors player, who requested anonymity.

It is a well-balanced squad capable of going very far if kept together for an extended period. Namibia’s aantage is their speed and if they utilised it properly they can kill lots of teams because modern football requires lots of pace. They just need to be careful not to surrender ball possession easily in crucial areas,” opines local football guru Ali “Mr Fix It” Akan.

Coach Mannetti and his technical team are expected to ring a few tactical changes on the starting line-up, notably in the firing line.

Hotter than hell winger, Deon Hotto, could be shifted to a more aancing role with enterprising winger Awillo Stephanus likely to be deployed in the middle of the park in an effort to add more spark in a resolute but predictable midfield combination of captain fantastic Stigga Ketjijere and the tireless stocky bullterrier Wangu-Batista Gomes.

Mannetti has cautioned against complacency, adding that Madagascar would not be another walk in the park. “Madagascar came a long way, eliminating some worthy opponents along the way. Getting past Ghana is not an easy task but they came out of their group confidently so we must respect them,” he charged.

He revealed that his has a clean bill of health, despite inspirational skipper Ketjijere missing a training session yesterday because of study commitments but the hard-tackling midfielder was expected to re-join the rest of the squad in the afternoon.

In today’s other semi-final, Botswana confronts Mozambique at 18h30.

Source : New Era