WINDHOEK, 24 APR – Midfielder Marcel Papama said playing for the national senior football team ranks as the proudest moment in his career thus far and he cannot wait to add more appearances to his name.
The 22-year-old UNAM Football Club player made his debut in an international friendly against Swaziland in Manzini last week.
Namibia played Swaziland, also known as Sihlangu Semnikati (King’s Shield), as part of celebrations for the host nation’s 50th Independence Day and King Mswati III’s 50th birthday on Thursday. Namibia lost 0-1.
The cheerful youngster was part of coach Ricardo Mannetti’s plan of reinforcing the senior national football team with young players.
Papama, who got a surprise pick in the starting 11, paid back the coach’s belief in him as he gave a “man of the match performance” in the centre of the park.
“Playing for the senior national team requires a lot of concentration because the game is really fast and physical, compared to under-20 (U-20) and Premier League level,” he told Nampa recently.
Papama added that playing at U-20 level is like a training session.
“The tempo at senior level is really hard; at training it felt like I was in a game. I am happy to be selected in the team because I learned more during this trip to Swaziland,” he said.
The young footballer came to prominence during the 2017/18 season. A regular for Namibian premiership side UNAM, Papama’s consistency for UNAM has not gone unnoticed by the senior national team selectors, who are keen to incorporate his abundant energy and industry into their set-up.
Mannetti told this agency that the performance showed by Papama against Swaziland brings competition for Black Africa player, Dynamo Fredericks, at national team level.
“My job as a coach is to give opportunities to the deserving players and I am happy that when Papama was called on, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I will now have a headache when Dynamo comes back to the team as competition for that position will really be tough,” Mannetti said.
He added that his goal is to have three or more players compete for a position in the national team, as it will make the team stronger.