Namibia look to build on their first Cosafa Cup triumph

By Mark GleesonBBC Sport in Moruleng, South Africa
Namibia win the 2015 Cosafa Cup
Namibia win the 2015 Cosafa Cup

Namibia's victory in the Cosafa Cup might be the portent of bigger and better things to come but coach Ricardo Mannetti warns there is no automatic guarantee of qualification for the next Africa Cup of Nations finals.

The lowly ranked Namibians came through the first round stages to produce a giant-killing upset and win the southern African championship, knocking out two former champions along the way.

A 2-0 win over Mozambique in the final on Saturday provided the Brave Warriors with their finest hour.

Deon Hotto's goals meant Namibia won the Cosafa trophy for the first time, some 16 years after their last appearance in the final.

But any thoughts that the side are now set to burst through onto the bigger stage at Gabon 2017 must be tempered, warned coach Mannetti after the victory.

"Let's not lie about it, let's be honest, the last time Namibia qualified for the Nations Cup was in 2008. Before that, was '98, when I was a player. You can see there have been very long intervals.

"I don't want any one to put pressure on this team. I'm still at work. This team is still not there," he said.

"Yes, we've won the Cosafa Cup but as a coach I know there is still much to do. I know what it takes to go away and get a result in a Senegal or a Niger."

Namibia open their Group K qualifying campaign with an away tie in Niamey on Sunday June 14. The group favourites are Senegal and the other team they face is Burundi.

"We still have a way to go with this specific team but if we keep at it, as things are right now, we stand a very good chance but we cannot assume just because we win here we are the best in Cosafa and things will just become easy for you."

Namibia completed a gruelling schedule of six games in less than a fortnight on their way to success.

They came through the first round of group matches reserved for the lowest eight ranked teams, including thrashing four-time winners Zimbabwe 4-1 in their last group game.

They then squeezed past holders Zambia on post-match penalties in the quarter-final last Sunday, beating Madagascar 3-2 in Thursday's semifinal and sealing success with a solid performance against the Mozambicans.

Hotto's pace set up the first goal after a clever through ball from centre forward Benson Shilongo in the 35th minute and midway through the second half the speedy winger sealed victory when his shot took a wicked deflection off Mozambique's fullback Norberto and looped over the head of goalkeeper Cesar Machava.

Of all the countries that competed at the 14-team tournament in South Africa's North West Province, Namibia came closest to having a full strength squad.

They called up all but one of their regulars who are foreign-based. Only the 35-year-old target man Henrico Botes was denied permission by his South African club Bidvest Wits to play in the two-week tournament.

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