While the rest of southern African countries have started preparing for the COSAFA U-20 Championship that is slated for Kitwe, Zambia from 6-16 December, Namibia’s junior football team is yet to start with its training session due to the unavailability of funds.
Namibia did not take part in the competition last year due to financial constraints, but this year the Namibian Football Association (NFA) has confirmed that the country will be among the 12 teams at the regional show piece.
Despite the lack of preparations, NFA president, Frans Mbidi, confirmed to the Windhoek Observer that the country’s U-20 football team will be competing in Zambia.
“Yes, the team will be competing at the COSAFA Cup this year,” said Mbidi this week.
Coach of the U-20 side, Gerald Guther, said he still has to select a pool of players that will represent the country at the regional competition.
Guther wants to follow in the footsteps of other local coaches that have won the regional tournament such as Ricardo Mannetti, who won the COSAFA Cup senior challenge with the Brave Warriors in 2015 and Timo Tjongarero, who won the regional championship with the U-17 team last year.
“Hopefully we will start with training as soon as possible. I think we would need a minimum of six weeks preparation in order to stand a chance to be a competitive team.
“I am sure that the U-20 team would get preference at the Namibian Football Association (NFA) technical centre for preparation. A year has passed since we were last active. So there will be some new faces. We need to make sure we are well loaded for each position to keep competition among players high. It will be a dream come true to win the COSAFA Cup,” Guther said.
Guther, who coached Eleven Arrows in the Namibia Premier League during the 2013/14 season, said junior tournaments such as the COSAFA cup are vital for Namibian football going forward.
“The COSAFA Cup is a huge tournament for Namibia. Any competitive tournament for juniors is very important for the development of national team football in our country. Our Brave Warriors always need young fresh players.
“The transition from junior to senior national team is very important and needs to be made easier for the player and the head coach of the Brave Warriors. This is important because by the time the player gets selected for the senior team he must be able to cope with the pressure and the different level of play. The national senior team coach also needs to spend time on tactics and game play, rather than to integrate a player into the national set up,” Guther said.
The coach urged football administrators and fellow coaches to sing one song and put aside their differences in order to make football the number one sport code in the country.
“There will always be challenges. As a coach one needs to create the best possible scenario with the tools available. These challenges vary and one needs to adjust and plan accordingly.
“Namibian football is not healthy and easy at the moment. But we can’t sit and cry about it. We (administrators, coaches and managers) need to stand up and pull at the right strings. We need to put personal issues aside to help Namibian football. Namibia has a small population and many people know each other. This makes it easier to get hold of players simply through contacts.
“We also had the Namibian Newspaper Cup this year, were we had an opportunity to look at what Namibia has to offer in regards to U-20 players. It is just a matter of getting the right players together. Match fitness will be our biggest stumbling block. I have always said that Namibia has great natural football talent. They just have to be identified earlier and groomed accordingly,” Guther said.