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Warriors Sharpen For Eagles

WINDHOEK - Brave Warriors interim coach Bobby Samaria has named a 40-man squad in preparation for the upcoming Afcon qualifiers against Mali home and away.

After having held South Africa to a draw with a largely home-based side earlier this month, Samaria has now strengthened his squad with more than 10 professional players. They include Malaysian-based Petrus Shitembi who is also the captain and Ryan Nyambe of English Championship side Blackburn Rovers.

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Other foreign-based players include Tiberius Lombaard from Zambia, Wangu Gome from Armenia, and Benson Shilongo from Egypt, but the bulk are from South Africa, including goalkeepers Virgil Vries and Lloyd Kazapua; defenders Ananias Gebhardt and Riaan !Hanamub; midfielder Deon Hotto and forward Peter Shalulile.

Samaria has retained most of the players who featured against South Africa, although SA-based Joslin Kamatuka and unused substitute Chris Katjiukua have not been called up this time.

Home-based players who put in good performances against Bafana Bafana, like Absalom Iimbondi, Dynamo Fredericks, Emilio Martin, Vitapi Ngaruka, Alfeus Handura, and Gustav Isaak have been retained, although striker Issaskar Gurirab is not included in the 40-man squad. 

Reflecting on the draw against South Africa, Samaria said it was a turning point for Namibia. "For us it was a watershed result for two reasons: Firstly, we played 11 months ago, but we still managed to hold our own, and then secondly, most of the 11 players who started were home-based players, so it just demonstrated the depths and quality that Namibia has.

"We did not call up any of our foreign players like the Ryan Nyambe's and the Shitembi's, for obvious reasons, because the traveling was a challenge. But now this is an away match and for us it's important to go to that match with a clear objective of what we want to achieve,” he added.

Samaria said they would go all out to get a good result in Bamako.“We are currently third in our group, one point behind Guinea and Mali who are both on four points, so it's important for us not to go there and just participate; we need to compete so that we can make sure that the return leg on the 17th of November is relevant,” he said.

NFA acting secretary-general Franco Cosmos said all the players will report for duty this morning. Äll the players will have to undergo compulsory Covid-19 tests and once the results are known we will go into camp,” he said.

"Of the international players, Benson Shilongo arrives today, while the South African-based players still have commitments on 4 November, but we expect them to join us after the weekend. "Petrus Shitembi and Ryan Nyambe will be the last players to arrive, but we will all meet here before we go to Mali on the 10th of November,” he added.

Regarding the recent unrest in Mali, Cosmos said they had received a guarantee for their safety from the Confederation of African Football (CAF). "As far as the NFA is concerned, we wrote to CAF who said that the Mali government has guaranteed our safety, and we are happy with it, so the match will take place there.”

Cosmos added that no spectators will be allowed at the home match as per government's Covid-19 regulations. According to the government's regulations only 200 people are allowed to attend a match, but both squads alone are already about 100 people, and then there is still the media and security, so there won't be place for spectators,” he said.

He, however, added that the match will be televised by the NBC. “We put in a request to the NBC to televise the match; I don't know if it will be live, but it will be televised,” he said.

The Brave Warriors squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Lloyd Kazapua, Virgil Vries, Edward Maova, Ratanda Mbazuvara and Jonas Mateus. 

Defenders: Teberius Lombardt, Ryan Nyambe, Ananias Gerbhardt, Riaan !Hanamub, Ivan Kamberipa, Emilio Martin, Vitapi Ngaruka, Larry Horaeb, Approcius Petrus, Gregory Aukumeb, Erasmus Ikeinge, Rehabeam Mbango, Brendon Neibeb, Kleophas Nuukushu, Denzil Hoaseb.  

Midfielders: Petrus Shitembi, Deon Hotto, Wangu Gome, Dynamo Fredricks, Immanuel Heita, Aubrey Amseb, Wendell Rudath, Gustav Isaack, Lewellyn Stanley, Absalom Iimbondi, Marcel Papama, Willy Stephanus, Alfeus Handura and Wesley Katjiteo. 

Strikers: Peter Shalulile, Benson Shilongo, Elmo Kambindu, Hendrik Somaeb, Panduleni Nekundi, Salomon Omseb.

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