Kick Off - - FEATURE -

Namibia’s Brave War­riors started off their qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2019 African Na­tions Cup with a 1-0 de­feat away to Guinea-Bis­sau, fol­lowed by a 1-1 draw with Zam­bia. They are in the same group with fel­low re­gional ri­vals Mozam­bique, with only the pool win­ners guar­an­teed of their place in Cameroon next year. Namibia has only ever qual­i­fied for the Af­con fi­nals twice, yet are still en­cour­aged by the pos­i­tive signs fol­low­ing their maiden Cosafa Cas­tle Cup crown in 2015 to se­cure a third ap­pear­ance in the con­ti­nent’s premier com­pe­ti­tion. “We have a mix­ture of young lo­cally-based play­ers who went to the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Chan tour­na­ment in Morocco ear­lier this year, and then a few guys play­ing out­side the coun­try,” says Hotto, who has nine goals in 40 ap­pear­ances for his na­tional team. “The coach [former San­tos mid­fielder Ri­cardo Man­netti] is try­ing to work a lot more with the younger play­ers so as to en­able them to get more ex­po­sure and ex­pe­ri­ence. The na­tion is look­ing for­ward to us qual­i­fy­ing for the 2019 Af­con, even though we started with that loss away to Guinea-Bis­sau. We are still in with a chance and we are con­fi­dent we will kill off Guinea-Bis­sau when they come to our home. The plus is that all other teams in our group are from our re­gion.”

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