Gladiators too smart for Swazis

Namibia's most successful football coach Brian 'Oubaas' Isaacs, the son of legendary Tigers FC flying winger Ferdinand Akwenye, has once again made a serious statement with his Midas touch.

Isaacs was installed as interim coach of Namibia's coachless senior women's football team, the Brave Gladiators, following the departure of long-serving mentor Jacqui Shipanga, and opened his tenure with a convincing victory over the visiting Swaziland team in an action-packed exhibition match on Saturday.

The hosts defeated Swaziland 3-2 in a five-goal thriller at the Namibia Football Association (NFA) Technical Centre Field. The tie was seen as a benchmark for Namibia's upcoming matches in the 2017 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Women's Senior Tourney.

A brace by Anna-Marie Shikusho and a further goal via the boot of Twelikondjela Amukoto in the opening half were enough to propel the hosts to a well-deserved triumph. The visitors replied with two face-saving goals late in the second half through Celiwe Nkambule and a last-minute spot kick by Nqobile Dlamini.

The hosts dominated the opening stages of an otherwise entertaining match but Isaacs may have disrupted their rhythm with the multiple changes he made at half time.

We started well, but seeing that it was my first game I had to assess the girls and made significant changes, five in total in the second half, to give everyone a chance to impress and that obviously disrupted momentum. We created enough chances to win the game comfortably but we did not utilise them, Isaacs charged.

He added that there were lots of lessons learned from the match, which he will use in preparation for the tourney in Zimbabwe. I'm satisfied with the team's overall performance and quite impressed by the girls' defensive abilities. So, on that score, I think the team is ready for Cosafa Cup.

Swaziland coach Mduduzi Nxumalo said his team started out slow because of the long trip and late arrival in the country. I think the girls lacked confidence and did not trust each other. In the second half they improved on that, but we still need to instill a sense of confidence in the team.

We did not get tired and continued playing and that's a good aspect for us, he said.

Namibia has been pitted in Group C in the COSAFA Cup alongside three-time winners South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia