Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti is taking the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign so seriously that he adds Collin Benjamin to his technical team while Virgil Vries, Sadney Urikhob and Willy Stephanus earned recalls for the 8 September clash against Zambia.
Benjamin, 40, is the Hopsol Youth League founder and a former Brave Warrior who also played for German Bundesliga side Hamburg SV for 10 years before becoming an assistant coach with second division side 1860 Munich.
“We have decided to bring in Collin to add value to the technical team in this very important period to qualify for the Afcon for the third time in Cameroon next year,” Mannetti said .
Benjamin, capped 39 times by Namibia, said he jumped at the opportunity to serve his country again.
“I consider this actually as a call-up from my country. If Namibia calls, you have to answer that call. I’m very honoured to be part of this quest,” he said.
The returning Stephanus, Urikhob and Vries offer Mannetti superior fitness and embedded experience of his methods.
Striker Panduleni Nekundi and the versatile Emilio Martin, who faced Zambia in two earlier meetings this year, miss out due to injury.
“I expect positivity. I expect value adding from them. They are guys who have grown under me, that is something we should remember. No matter what happens, we have a close bond. So, positivity and value addition, I expect leadership on and off the pitch from them,” said Mannetti.
It will be the third meeting between the two neighbours this year, having drawn 1-1 at the African Nations Championships in Morocco, and Zambia edging their Cosafa Cup quarter-final 4-3 following a goalless stalemate in South Africa.
Namibia and Zambia are on zero points in Group K after losing by the same 1-0 score lines away to Guinea Bissau and at home against Mozambique, respectively, in June 2017.
“We’re playing at home. People haven’t seen the team play for some time, and I think the energy at the Sam Nujoma Stadium will filter down to the pitch. I expect that Namibia will play much better than we did at Cosafa, and much better than we did at Chan in Morocco,” said Mannetti.