Namibia primed for Zambia battle in Nelson Mandela Bay

Part of the tremendous draw of the HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship is the ability to test yourself against your peers in the region and find ways to improve and become more competitive.

That is certainly the case for Namibia, who have never lifted the coveted trophy, but were beaten finalists in 2006 and will be aiming to go one better than that when they feature in the 2022 version in Nelson Mandela Bay from August 31-September 11.

The Brave Gladiators have been drawn in a tough Group B that includes Zambia, Lesotho and Eswatini, starting with a meeting against the Copper Queens Thursday next week.

With the greatest of respect to their other two opponents, coach Paulus Shipanga knows that their biggest challenge likely comes first up and against the Zambians, who will have most of their squad that recently finished third at the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and qualified for the 2023 FIFA World Cup.

Knowing and planning for what is coming is one thing, but how to stop it and having the proper execution is what really matters. Namibia know this all too well after they lost to the Copper Queens 3-0 at the 2021 regional competition, and 3-2 in 2019.

And, of course, they were pipped to qualifying for the 2022 Wafcon on the away goals rule after playing to a 0-0 draw in Lusaka and then 1-1 in neutral Johannesburg. Both of those games were in February.

“Right now our concentration is on Zambia, as we are trying to figure out how they play. As you know, they beat us during last year’s edition. The girls are motivated and all they want is to get revenge against Zambia,” Shipanga was quoted by The Namibian.

“We need to get their fitness up to a certain percentage because this is an international competition. Luckily, players are positive and have shown good progress thus far.

“We are doing our best and still have a week. I am truly happy with the turnout. Fitness is imperative and we are trying to play as many friendly matches as possible.”

Namibia have been hamstrung by a lack of domestic competition for some time now, but they are a side that often punches above its weight.”

They showed that against Zambia in the Wafcon qualifiers when they put up a huge fight, and in beating 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship winners Tanzania in the previous round of those preliminaries.

They may not the resources of other nations, but there is not a team in Nelson Mandela Bay who will be taking Namibia lightly.