Why Namibia would love to beat Bafana Bafana at Afcon
It would be special for Namibia to get one over big brother neighbours Bafana Bafana at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon)‚ Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti has admitted.
Namibia begin their Egypt 2019 campaign against Morocco at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Sunday‚ with South Africa kicking off against Ivory Coast at the same venue on Monday (both 4.30pm kickoffs).
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Group D’s Southern African derby is on Friday night‚ also on the smooth‚ beautifully grassed surface of the compact‚ 30‚000-seat Al Salam Stadium.
Namibia will aim to progress past a group stage at the Afcon finals for the first time‚ having exited in the first round without a win in their previous appearances in 1998 and 2008.
“Our expectations are very simple - we want to do better than what we have done in the previous two Afcon finals campaigns‚” former Cape Town Santos forward Mannetti said.
“And that obviously means that we need to start by winning a single game.
“We are very much aware of the fact that we are labelled as the underdogs because of the magnitude of the other teams in this group‚ which is already dubbed the group of death.
“We are aware of our strengths and weaknesses and our expectations within the group.”
Given Namibia’s history against South Africa – who the Rainbow Warriors have upset at more than a few Cosafa Cup editions – and the fact that Bafana are the third-strongest team on paper in Group D‚ Mannetti might view his team’s second game as their most winnable.
“I think it’s very important to get off to a good start [against Morocco]‚” he said‚ asked about that.
“Whatever that means – a draw or a victory.
"To surprise Africa and to show people that we are not just here to make up numbers‚ and are really here to compete and want to do that to the best of our ability.
“As for the South Africa match‚ that one is very emotional‚ as usual. And it will always be a special one if we can beat South Africa on the day.
“That has always been the case and I don’t think it’s going to change come the 28th when we play Bafana.”
Mannetti will pit his wits against Morocco’s twice-Nations Cup winner Hervé Renard on Sunday.