Namibia held to draw by Liberia in World Cup qualifier

Namibia snatched an early goal but then conceded 25 minutes from time to draw their World Cup qualifier 1-1 with Liberia at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Wednesday, dropping their first points of their bid to reach the 2026 finals.

The Brave Warriors advanced to seven points from their opening three matches, having been handed a default win over Equatorial Guinea and then beating Sao Tome e Principe in their previous two matches in November.

Liberia moved to four points as, like Namibia, they were given three points from their November loss to Equatorial Guinea, who were found guilty of using ineligible striker Emilio Nsue.

Tjipee Karuuombe made a surging run from deep in midfield to get onto a delightful chip from Ben Namib to steer home the ball after only eight minutes for the home side, forced to move the match to South Africa because of the lack of a suitable stadium.

It was a cleverly crafted goal that held out high hopes that Namibia would go onto a comfortable win but they wilted under a tough physical approach by the west Africans, whose use of the long throw in caused all sorts of havoc for the defence.

Terry Sackor got the equaliser in the 65th minute.

Namibia’s most experienced player Deon Hotto thrashed a free kick against the opposing crossbar late in the first half but Liberia had two penalty appeals turned down and also the ball in the back of the net from an offside position.

Mohamed Sangare tumbled down in the Namibia half after 22 minutes after a challenge from Erasmus Ikeinge but the Congolese referee Messie Nkounbkou found there was minimal contact.

Kumeh’s throw-in 10 minutes thereafter saw a flick on that found Sackor upfront as he guided the ball into the net with his head but was offside, as was teammate Abdulai Bility.

Namibia had to clear two dangerous balls at the start of the second half and then almost put the ball in their own net as the defenders went up to clear a single ball, only for Charles Hambira to head it back over his own crossbar.

They were largely pinned back after the break but rasping shot from the left foot of midfielder Aprocious Petrus flew narrowly wide in the 56th minute.

Soon after, Liberia grabbed the equaliser with Kumeh launching another long throw and Loyt Kazapua in the Namibia goal unable to clear on two occasions before Sackor tucked the ball away at the near post.

Hotto went down in the 70th minute after being caught in the box by Sebastian Teclar but his penalty appeal was inexplicably turned down by the referee.

Liberia’s defence almost put the ball in their own net three minutes from time when the ball came back off the crossbar Erastus Kulula’s rebound was saved by goalkeeper Abdulai Koulibaly.

Namibia, who played without injured star striker Peter Shalulile, next host Tunisia at the Orlando Stadium on Sunday while Liberia play at the same time away against Sao Tome in neutral Morocco.