Idle Warriors Worry Mannetti

Ricardo Mannetti is “very worried” about Brave Warriors regulars who continue to see little or no action at club level, which has forced him to call up a host of novices for the next week’s friendly international against Swaziland.

Playmaker Petrus Shitembi, who is on the books of AmaZulu, and Free State Stars’ recent acquisition Hendrik Somaeb have not featured in any of the South African Premiership matches so far this season, while midfielder Heinrich Isaacks has been on the fringes of the Bloemfontein Celtic first team.

Add to that, the misfortunes of forwards Sadney Urikhob and Pinehas Jakob, who recently had their contracts with AmaZulu terminated, having barely broke sweat for the club during the past two seasons, and Mannetti’s options become more limited.

Urikhob and Jakob have both since returned to the Namibia Premier League with Civics and Black Africa respectively.

But with the domestic league also dormant, due to the never-ending dispute between African Stars and the football authorities, the pair have had no opportunity to be in the reckoning for a recall to the Brave Warriors, leading Mannetti to turn his attention to several players from the Under-23 team which recently returned from a three-week tour of Ghana.

“I’m very worried. If these players are not playing at their clubs then it’s not good for the national team,” a grim-faced Mannetti told reporters at a media briefing at Football House yesterday.

“I’m in constant contact with their clubs, so as soon as their clubs inform me that they are using them, then I can look at considering them. At the moment it is very difficult for a player like Shitembi to make the national team. How do I justify the selection of a player that does not play at club level?” said Mannetti.

Mannetti drafted 13 uncapped players from the youth side into the 23-man squad preparing for the friendly, which will be staged at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Wednesday, 10 September.

Two other U23 regulars, Edward Maova and Wangu Gome, have a cap each for the Brave Warriors, while four of the new boys, Ivan Kamberipa, Uitapi Ngaruka and Aubrey Amseb of Rebels and Citizens’ Tjiuana tja Tjinotjiua have never played top flight football, as their sides only won promotion from the Southern Stream First Division to the NPL at the end of last season.

“This particular friendly is very difficult in terms of the process of calling up players. We are in a difficult situation at the moment as the local league is yet to kick off, so we have a mixed squad of Under-23 players that went to Ghana and played about five games with foreign-based players. I’ve opted to take these ones in terms of fitness, so we only have to be concerned with working on tactics,” Mannetti said.

The team will be heavily reliant on the experience of captain Ronald Ketjijere, defender Willem Mwedihanga, midfielder Lazarus Kaimbi, veteran forwards Henrico Botes and Rudolf Bester. Bester is enjoying a new lease on life after joining former Brave Warriors coach Tom Saintfiet at Free State Stars.

Returning utility-man Deon Hotto and centre-back Chris Katjiukua are also expected to feature prominently against the Swazi’s after missing the past couple of internationals due to injury and illness.

Defensive stalwart Da Costa Angula, who is enjoying a great start to his Free State Stars career, is unavailable due to injury.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the resumption of domestic football and the fortunes of the sidelined foreign-based legion, Mannetti said the youngsters could be in for an extended national team run, during which time he expects them to stake a claim for further call-ups.

He however cautioned that his latest assemble is by no means an indication of the changing of the guard after the country’s failure to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

“I want to see these youngsters put the senior guys under pressure. The senior players need to know that they must work hard because someone else could take their place. So for the young ones, its an opportunity to impress,” he said.

The home-based players started training at the Sam Nujoma Stadium yesterday and are joined by Lazarus Kaimbi, who is a regular at Thai Premiership side Bangkok Glass.

The rest of the foreign legion will join the team by the weekend, Mannetti said.

In the squad are: Max Mbaeva, Chris Katjiukua and Deon Hotto (Golden Arrows, SA), Edward Maova, Chester Stanley, Henry Duwe and Wangu Gomes (Civics), Willem Mwedihanga (Amazulu SA), Ronald Ketjijere (University of Pretoria), Wangu Gomes (Civics), Rudolf Bester (Free State Stars, SA), Lazarus Kaimbi (Bangkok Glass, Thailand), Henrico Botes (Biest Wits, SA) , Donovan Gainub, Peter Shalulile and Itamunua Keimuine (Tura Magic), Ivan Kamberipa, Marius Kotze and Aubrey Amseb (Rebels), Vitapi Ngaruka (United Stars), Tjiuana tja Tjinotjiua (Citizens), Enrico Hoeumlbeb (Blue Waters), Benjamin Nenkavu (Tigers) and Leroy Adams (Black Africa).

Source : The Namibian