Lessons for 2019 AFCON

VIEWPOINT Adolf Kaure [email protected]

08 April 2019 | Opinion

There is still a lot that the national senior soccer team need to learn if they want to be a force to be reckoned with at the upcoming African Cup of Nations (AFCON) which will be held in Egypt.

This comes after Namibia successfully qualified for the showpiece alongside Guinea Bissua in group K. Although the Brave Warriors lost 4-1 to Zambia, Guinea Bissau’s stoppage time equaliser insured entry for the Brave Warriors as they have a better head to head record compared to Mozambique.

The humiliating defeat at the hands of Zambia however leaves questions to be asked and issues that need to be addressed urgently.

Namibia played most of their qualifiers with their entrusted first choice goalkeeper Virgil Vries and it came as a surprise that coach Ricardo Mannetti did not start with him between the sticks for the game against Zambia in Lusaka.

I am of the opinion that some of the goals that were scored by Zambia could have been avoided if Vries was the goalkeeper.

He has proven himself in previous games against Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Zambia, and that earned him a move to one of the Soweto giants in South Africa, Kaizer Chiefs.

Vries has not seen much action at “Amakhozi” of late as he was sidelined because of a few mistakes he made. All goalkeepers make mistakes, even the great ones, so it’s always good for a coach to keep his trust in a goalkeeper as this gives confidence in moving forward.

Another thing that must be worked on is the players’ mentality. It is key that the players adopt a winning mentality going into the 2019 AFCON as the games that they will play will be against top teams with players who ply their trade in top leagues around the world.

World class players like Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Alex Iwobi could potentially do battle against the Namibia at the competition and our players need to have the mental strength to believe that they can beat them despite their superstar tags.

Players make mistakes, but the manner in which they rise from this is what defines the great from the average players.

Deon Hotto has had a great season at Bidvest Wits so far where he has inspired his team to climb to second place in the ABSA Premiership in South Africa.

The player, who grew up in Swakopmund, is known as the king of assists in the league. He missed a good chance with a gaping goal in the first half against Zambia.

In Egypt we have to be mentally tough and move on from the mistakes of the past.

Although Namibia has never won a single match at its two previous appearances at the AFCON (1998 and 2008), this year presents a good opportunity to get that first win.

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