’We Are No Pushovers’

Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti has challenged his team to live up to their name when they face Congo Brazzaville in Pointe-Noire on Sunday.

The Warriors take a slender 1-0 lead to hostile territory for the return leg of their 2015 Caf Africa Cup of Nations preliminary round qualifier.

The inhospitableness of west-African countries is well documented and Mannetti said he anticipates a taxing experience.

Unlike the haven which Namibia affords visiting teams, the Brave Warriors will most likely face horrendous hostility from the moment they land in Point-Noire.

Mannetti has gone to great lengths to ensure that his charges are undeterred by events leading up to and during the match.

While the decision to leave for the Congo only a day before the match robs the Warriors of the opportunity to acclimatise to the tropically hot and humid environment of Pointe-Noire, it shields them from having to deal with poor facilities and other devious ploys aimed at unsettling them.

Caf competitions are also notoriously riddled with attempts to influence the supposedly neutral match officials.

“Mentally we are prepared. Physically we are also prepared. I’m very happy with the fitness levels of this team. It allows us to play the type of game we want. Like we did in the first leg,” said Mannetti, who recalled a not too dissimilar situation during the mid-90s when he travelled to the same country as a player for a Nations Cup qualifier.

He said the NFA sent a delegation earlier this week to assess the situation and prepare for the team’s arrival on Saturday.

“It was tough back then. We lost our luggage and playing gear upon arrival in Congo. We had to dig deep,” he said.

“I’ve told my players that they have to believe they can do it.

“This game will be all about mental strength.

“The crowd is very hostile and very aggressive. Our focus should be on the field against the eleven players and not on the crowd. We need to keep our concentration for 90 minutes,” said Mannetti.

Growing confidence

The Brave Warriors will face Congo without the experienced pair of striker Henrico Botes and midfielder Lazarus Kaimbi for the crucial contest.

Mannetti said Botes was not fit enough to be considered for selection, while Thailand-based Kaimbi will also not be available because his club declined to release him, citing a busy league schedule.

Nonetheless, Mannetti said his team are well equipped to deal with the setback.

Mannetti, who’s tenure began with a hard fought 1-1 draw at home to Nigeria with a depleted and inexperienced squad, said his side are begging to show that they are a confident unit that performs best in the face of aersity.

Namibia took the game to the Congolese during the first leg, in which the home side showed intelligent use of possession and created many scoring opportunities.

A similar approach in Pointe-Noire will give the Warriors the best chance of progressing to the next phase of the qualifiers, said Mannetti.

“The approach is to dominate teams. I’m not the type of guy to play second fiddle. I want teams to be intimidated when they play Namibia,” he said.

“They underestimated us. They looked at the rankings and the fact that they have so many individuals playing in Europe and maybe thought we were pushovers. We played very good first leg but now we’ve still got to work to neutralise them on their home turf,” Mannetti added.

In the squad are: Max Mbaeva (African Stars), Virgil Vries (Maritzburg United, SA), Willem Mwedihanga (Amazulu, SA), Denzil Haoseb (Black Africa), Da Costa Angula and Ananias Gebhardt (both Black Africa FC), Ronald Ketjijere (University of Pretoria, SA), Freedom Puriza and Dennis Ngueza (both African Stars), Emilio Martin and Willy Stephanus (both Black Africa), Hendrik Somaeb (Blue Waters), Neville Tjiueza (Tura Magic), Petrus Shitembi (Amazulu, SA), Heinrich Isaacks (Maritzburg United, SA), Nekundi Panduleni (Tigers FC), Wangu Gomes (Civics), Rudolf Bester (Golden Arrows, SA), Tangeni Shipahu (Otsotspa, Thailand) and Jerome Louis (Township Rollers Botswana).

Source : The Namibian