WINDHOEK, 24 APR – For the national team to continue performing well it needs to bring in a lot of youthful players to learn from those with experience in the team at the moment, Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti has said.
He said this after his team’s 0-1 defeat against Swaziland on Thursday in Manzini, Swaziland.
“In 1998 we had a good team but after all the players retired we struggled to compete well, even qualify for the African Nations Cup (Afcon) until 10 years later when we rebuilt another team that qualified for Afcon,” he said.
In 1998 and 2008, Namibia qualified for the Afcon finals, but thereafter the team struggled to win games at continental level until they won the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup in 2015 and qualified for the African Nations Championship in 2017.
Mannetti said the current crop of players does not have many years left to play and the introduction of new, young players will bring forth competition for positions in the team, while at the same time widening the pool of players to select from for an extended period.
“To widen a national team takes a lot of character, as most coaches are afraid of doing that because they are more focused on getting the results. My technical team and I have lately been taking bold decisions to start giving chances to other players who will take over from the current crop.”
He said they cannot depend on the same players year after year, because those players will hang up their boots and then there will be times like after 1998 and 2008 when teams took a long time to replace/rebuilt.
The coach also said he wants to build a good team that he can leave for whoever takes over when his time as national coach comes to an end.
“We experimented against Lesotho and now Swaziland and I’m satisfied with the overall outcome from the two games. We saw players who are ready and players who are doing well domestically, but not ready for the national team set-up yet.”
Mannetti stated that for Namibia to compete well at international level, coaches at club level need to start getting tall strikers and centre-backs who are physically strong to compete at continental and international level.