Namibia look to fulfill rich potential in Nelson Mandela Bay

Best finish: Second (2006)
FIFA Ranking: 146
CAF Ranking: 26
Last five tournaments:
2017 – Group Stage
2018 – Group Stage
2019 – Group Stage
2020 – Group Stage
2021 – Group Stage

New Namibia coach Paulus Shipanga is hopeful his team can reach the knockout stages of the 2022 HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship in Gqeberha with the side having shown plenty of promise in recent years.

The tournament that runs from August 31-September 11 will be an acid test of where the squad is at present after they were drawn in a tough Group B with 2023 FIAF Women’s World Cup qualifiers Zambia, Lesotho and Eswatini. Only the top team automatically qualifies for the semifinals, along with the best runner-up from the three pools.

Shipanga has named a preliminary squad that has been training ahead of the regional showpiece event and he is pleased with what he has seen to date.

“So far, we are doing great, we experienced a little bit of injuries because we are pushing them to hard,” he said. “We also don’t have all the players in camp but the current ones are doing great. The team is not where we want it to be but they are understanding our coaching philosophy and that is very important at this stage in training.”

He says this could well be a tournament to bring through some budding young talent to compliment the more experienced players.

‘The technical team wanted a mixture of both because we just can’t throw in the junior players, we need the seniors to show them the ropes. The team selection was based on how good the player is, discipline, tactical abilities and overall what you bring to the pitch as a player.”

Namibia has six previous appearances at the COSAFA Women’s Championships when they turned out in 2006, 2008, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021, and have largely excelled in the regional showpiece competition.

The Brave Gladiators have always been tough competitors in the past and the same will be expected again.

In their first showing in 2006 they claimed an excellent 2-2 draw with Zambia and then thumped Eswatini 6-0 in the pool stages, enough to see them into the semifinals as runners-up in their group.

They gained revenge over Zambia with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory after a 1-1 draw but lost in the final to South Africa when they went down 3-1.

They reached the semifinals again two years later, but this time were ousted at that stage by South Africa, ironically by the same scoreline.

They had less success in 2017, beating Botswana 4-0 in their opener, but then losing 2-1 to Lesotho and once again suffering a 3-1 loss to South Africa to finish bottom of their pool.

The following year they beat Eswatini 4-1, but a defeat to Zimbabwe (0-1) a draw with East African guest nation Uganda (0-1) meant they did not progress to the knockout stages.

They were back again in 2019, but won only one of their three games, an 8-0 hammering of Mauritius. Before that they lost to Botswana (0-1) and Zambia (2-3).

They took four points in 2021, drawing with a strong Uganda team 0-0 in their opener, before a 3-0 loss to Zambia and a 1-0 win over Eswatini. It was not enough to reach the semifinals.

Namibia preliminary squad:
Melissa Matheus, Gwenneth Narises, Agnes Kauzuu, Karabo Vries, Eddelsisingh Emma Naris, Veweziwa Kotjipati, Selma Enkali, Veronika Van Wyk, Nicole Philander, Ivoone Kooper, Kamunikire Tjituka, Ashley Solomons, Anna Shaende, Julia Rutjindo ,Juliana Blou, Albertina Aludhilu, Memory Ngonda, Millicent Hikuam, Shanice Daries, Asteria Angula, Shamilla Damases, Thomalina Adams, Helena Shuumbwa, Lillie Kasheeta, Tangi Mulundu, Vekendisa Ujaha, Anna-Marie Shikusho, Fiola Vliete, Kylie Van Wyk, Zenatha Coleman and Beverley Ueziua.