Namibia, South Africa revel in last-16 qualification

Namibia winger Deon Hotto has hailed his side after they made history to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time following a battling 0-0 draw with Mali on Wednesday.

Namibia finished third in their Group E, enough to advance to the last-16 where they will take on COSAFA rivals Angola, a draw that will keep them dreaming of even more.

“It wasn’t easy. We fought until the last minute, until the final whistle. This qualification means a lot for Namibia,” Orlando Pirates star Hotto said. “When we arrived at the match, we already knew we had a point and we were qualified.

“But we tried to have a low (defensive) block and take advantage of a few transitions. The Mali team is very strong, especially on these sides, so we clearly played low. We contained them but we also had chances.”

Hotto says the side built confidence as the game went on, and they will take that into their clash with Angola.
“It was our day. As the match went on, you could see that nothing could happen to us,” he said.

Angola and Namibia will know each other incredibly well from recent COSAFA Cup tournaments, though they have not met since 2011, and while Angola will be favourites, Namibia coach Collin Benjamin will have a plan oust them.

Their blow-out 4-0 loss to Bafana Bafana aside, Namibia have looked solid before and during this Cup of Nations.

Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos says his side have to believe they can go all the way at the Africa Cup of Nations after a stout defensive performance against fancied Tunisia earned them a last-16 clash against Morocco.

South Africa comfortably held their North African opponents at bay and go into a knockout clash with top-ranked Morocco having beaten their rivals as recently as last June.

Broos believes there is momentum building in his team and he says if they keep the same work-ethic and belief, anything is possible in the Ivory Coast.

“There is a very happy coach sitting behind this microphone, not only because we qualified for the next round, but also because of the performance,” Broos said. “A coach can be satisfied when he sees his boys working and fighting on the pitch and doing what we ask.

And a coach is very happy when he sees the guys on the bench making big efforts to support their teammates. I saw this today, a family, a team that wanted just one thing.”

Broos came into the tournament believing Bafana can go all the way and nothing has changed his mind.

“I think that the objective should be the highest objective,” he said. “Everything is possible, when you see the results of other teams it is incredible.”