Namibia/Botswana: Baby Warriors Shake Off Little Zebras

Godwin Awaseb's first-half strike propelled the Namibian Under-17 football team, the Baby Warriors, to advance to the second round of the CAF U/17 AFCON Qualifiers, following their 2-1 defeat against hosts Botswana at Lobaste Stadium on Saturday.

The tie finished 2-all on aggregate, but Namibia still go through - courtesy of the away-goal rule after midfielder Awaseb netted on three minutes to give the visitors the all-important away-goal and 2-goal cushion. Namibia won the first leg 1-0 at home a fortnight ago.

However, the hosts dug deep and scored two late first-half goals to take a 2-1 lead going into the changeover. After the resumption Namibia threw wind to caution, but that oak door of defence refused to yield under a late barrage of attacks.

With neither side finding the back of the net in the second half, the match ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts, but the two goals were not enough, as the visitors went through with better away-goal advantage and have now booked a place against Congo Brazzaville in the next round en route to Madagascar 2017.

In a bid to tighten the rearguard, Baby Warriors coach Timo Tjongarero hauled off Lleyton Goliath for Shipanga and unleashed Mbakondja Tjahikika Alex Kuutondokwa in place of goalscorer Godwin Eiseb and skipper Dawid Morgan Jr.

"We're very pleased with the overall performance of the boys, including the result. It was not easy, but the boys dug deep and we got the result we wanted to get through, so we're now looking forward to the next match, which is all about exposure for the young lads."

Tjongarero added that competing in the COSAFA Under-17 championships in Mauritius later this month would help improve the boys' match fitness levels. "The challenge now is for us to create an understanding with nearby schools to make sure the boys also excel academically," Tjongarero concluded.

Meanwhile, the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) on Friday announced the draw for the Cosafa Under-17 championship, with Namibia pitted in Group A alongside hosts Mauritius, Seychelles and old foes South Africa.

Reigning champions Zambia are in Group B, with Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique making up the group for the ten-day youth tourney slated for July 22.

The top two nations from each group will advance to the semifinals, with the top teams in Group A to confront the Group B runner-up and the Group B winner facing second best placed side from Group A.

Baby Warriors starting line up against Botswana:

Philipus Josef, Godwin Awaseb, Johannes Hollombach, Lubeni Haukongo, Immanuel Isaya, Dawid Morgan Jr, Helmuth Namaseb, Stanley Ndjavera, Vaino Uugwanga, Tulela Shipanga and Godwin Eiseb.

Source: New Era