AILING playmaker Petrus Shitembi believes the Brave Warriors have what it takes to make an impression on the upcoming Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup tournament.
Namibia must upstage guests Senegal and record Cosafa Cup champions Zimbabwe and Mozambique to add weight to that perception.
Just like captain Peter Shalulile, vice captain Shitembi is unable to be called upon for duty due to injury.
Shitembi has been sidelined since March with an ankle issue.
Both players were central to Namibia claiming a first and so far only senior football international title in 2015 when they beat Mozambique in the final to win the Cosafa Cup.
“It is quite sad that Peter and myself won’t be a part of the team, but I always maintain my faith in the boys,” Shitembi says of their absence.
“I believe the technical team has called up a more-than-formidable squad that can definitely represent us well and keep us in good standing.”
The Brave Warriors face Senegal again in Fifa World Cup qualifiers later in the year and will use the Cosafa Cup to fine-tune for that assignment. Also in Group H are Togo and Congo (Brazzaville).
“I certainly understand we find ourselves in a very tricky group, but I place my faith and confidence in the boys to carry us as far as possible in the tournament. It would certainly be an amazing feat if we could replicate the 2015 Cosafa Cup success,” Shitembi says.
Meanwhile, the organisers yesterday confirmed that the landmark 20th edition to be staged at Nelson Mandela Bay (renamed Gqeberha), South Africa, from 6 to 18 July will go ahead as planned.
There were fears that the competition would be called off due to the host nation adjusting to new stringent Covid-19 regulations.
The country moved to Level 4 restrictions this week to combat a rise in infections that are largely contained in the Gauteng province.
However, the updated Government Gazette clearly states that professional sport events around the country may continue, as long as the appropriate precautions are taken.
Cosafa, along with the South African Football Association, have created a biosecure environment for the teams, officials and organisers of the impending tournament, replicating the successful ‘bubble’ for the four tournaments staged in the Eastern Cape at the end of 2020.
“While there is a need to implement stricter measures to deal with the current statistics, the president of South Africa in his address to the nation on 27 June was clear in that daily life and business, in particular, should continue,” Cosafa general secretary Sue Destombes says.
“The restrictions on inter-provincial travel does not apply to transit through the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, and travel for the purposes of business is permitted. Cosafa has already put in place strict Covid-19 protocols to ensure the safety of all role-players, including operating within a bio-bubble and playing matches behind closed doors,” she says.
“Cosafa, hosts Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and agencies of the South African government have extensive experience in staging events amid the lockdown, having hosted four competitions at Nelson Mandela Bay in 2020, and with professional domestic football and international matches continuing.”