Brave Warriors’ coach Ricardo Mannetti has welcomed the challenge of being drawn against Namibia’s neighbouring country, Zambia, for the 2016 African Cup of Nations’ (AFCON) qualifiers.
A media statement issued by the Namibia Football Association (NFA) today quoted Mannetti expressing readiness for the challenge that lies ahead of them in June this year.
“Zambia are the second best team in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) ranking at the moment and it is a tough challenge for me and my team to play against them. We are the underdogs and that can maybe be good for us,” said Mannetti.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Easter Sunday conducted the draw for the 2016 CHAN qualifiers.
Being on the unseeded side in the preliminary round, Namibia was expected to face one of the seeded sides: Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique or Botswana.
Namibia was then paired with Zambia that is ranked 68 by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) while Namibia is at position 113.
Mannetti reckons playing the first game at home will be an advantage that can be complimented by thorough preparation.
“Now we know who we will face and it is vital that we prepare very well and early for the first leg in Windhoek. I have not lost a match at the Sam Nujoma Stadium since officially given the mandate to lead the team. If we prepare well and play at home, we can overcome Zambia. They can be beaten but we must prepare very well,” said Mannetti.
A former Brave Warrior himself, Mannetti is also banking on the experience of some returnees to the Namibia Premier League (NPL).
The first leg of matches is scheduled for the weekend of 19-21 June with the return leg slated for 3-5 July 2015.
The winner of the match between Namibia and Zambia will take on the winner of the match between Mozambique and Seychelles during the preliminary round, to secure a place in the 2016 AFCON hosted in Rwanda next year.