MANZINI, 20 APR – Namibia’s senior national men’s football team lost their international friendly match 0-1 against Swaziland in Manzini on Thursday evening.
Sihlangu Semnikati (King’s Shield), as Swaziland’s senior football team is affectionately known, scored in the last seconds of the match that formed part of Swaziland’s 50th Independence Day celebrations, held alongside King Mswati III’s 50th birthday celebration.
The match, played in rainy conditions, saw the home team dominating play in the opening 20 minutes as their strikers looked for an early goal, but a “man of the match” performance by Edward Maova kept them at bay.
The dominant hosts were denied a goal in the 15th minute after a one-on-one encounter between Felix Badenhorst and Maova saw the latter pulling off a brilliant save.
Maova repeated a similar feat when he stopped Phiwa Dlamini from finding the back of the net in the 30th minute.
The Namibians started finding their feet with just 15 minutes left in the first half, with brilliant runs into the opposition’s half, which saw Warriors debutant Mapenzi Muwanei missing a goal-scoring opportunity after Riaan Hanamub’s cross found his “wrong” foot.
Before the half-time break, the home team caught the Namibian defence napping, but Maova once again came to the rescue as he punched the ball out for a corner.
The half-time score was 0-0.
In the second half, Swaziland had an early attempt on goal in the 46th minute but Maova once again recorded a save.
The home team was then awarded a penalty kick in the 52nd minute, but Musa Dlamini shot wide.
The Namibians took control of the game from the 60th minute, attacking in all directions but were let down by their final touches.
Swaziland substitute, Barry Steenkamp was given marching orders in the 88th minute after bringing down Hanamub.
Despite being a man down, the home team managed to find the back of the net after the Namibian defence failed to clear a ball from a free kick that was punched out by Maova but the ball found Zweli Nxumalo, who scored the only goal of the match.
Speaking to Nampa after the match, Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti said he was happy with the team’s performance on the day.
“I am happy that this game gave us an opportunity, as the technical team, to see who we can add to our Cosafa and African Nations Cup qualifiers squads.
He was also pleased that he could give seven players their senior national team debuts.
Mannetti added that the performances by some players is evidence that there will soon be tough competition for places in the national team.