The Tafel Lager Brave Warriors face a tough challenge when they take on Malawi in an international friendly at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Wednesday, February 9. It will be Brian Isaacs’ debut as caretaker coach and he faces a tricky task against one of the top teams in the southern African region.
According to the latest FIFA rankings, Malawi are ranked 89th in the world and 20th in Africa, compared to Namibia’s 138 and 37th positions respectively. Malawi’s Flames have also climbed up to third in the SADC region, while Namibia is only ranked 10th in SADC.
In September last year they shocked Tunisia with a 2-2 draw in Tunis and they are currently third in Group K of their AFCON qualifying campaign, behind Botswana and Tunisia. In their AFCON campaign they also held 2006 World Cup finalists Togo to a 1-1 draw in Lome, they drew 1-1 against Botswana at home and then thrashed Chad 6-2 at home in October.
Isaacs reiterated that Malawi would be a tough opponent.
“They are in a very tough AFCON group with Tunisia and Botswana and their performances have been good till now. They have also brought in their foreign based players - there is one who is playing in Russia - so it will be a very strong side. It will be a very difficult game, but that’s where we need to test our character and to see where we stand and where we are heading,” he said.
Isaacs announced a squad of 31 players for the match, that included three former Angolan-based players that have been overlooked by the national selectors for the past few years, namely Letu Shatimuene, Dumisa Jantze and Riaan Cloete. Shatimuene, who last played for Namibia in 2008, has 14 caps to his name, while Jantze, who has only three caps to his name, last played way back in 2001. Cloete has yet to play for Namibia.
Other players that have been brought back into the fold after an absence include Tigers striker Pineas Jacob and Jomo Cosmos winger Lazarus Kaimbi.
Isaacs also called up two players from First Division side Tura Magic for the first time, namely central defender Teberius Lombard and central midfielder Alfeus Handura.
Black Africa attacking midfielder, Rudi Louw, SKW striker Alfred Ndyenge and defender Orlando Pirates defender Michael Pienaar are some of the casualties of the selection that was announced on January 25.
Isaacs also called up a strong legion of foreign-based players which includes players like the captain Colin Benjamin (HSV), Razundara Tjikuzu (KSK), Tangeni Shipahu (Amazulu), Rudolf Bester (Maritzburg United), Wilko Risser (Elversberg 07), Sydney Plaatjies (Black Aces) and Henrico Botes (Platinum Stars). The first foreign-based players are expected to arrive on Monday.
Isaacs tested out various combinations in a friendly match against Ramblers on Wednesday, which ended in a 0-0 draw.
In the first half, Quinton Jacobs and Heini Isaacs were their most effective players from midfield, combining well with Letu Shatimuene, Pineas Jacob and Eslin Kamuhanga in attack.
In the second half Dumisa Jantze and Riaan Cloete were brought into the midfield, with Sydney Urikhob in attack. Blue Boys striker, who was not in the original squad, was also used in the second half.
Isaacs said the practise match was very useful.
“The match was a training game to look at the combinations and a few tactics of how we want them to play and to test the new players in a real game situation. At training you don’t always see their true colours and it was a very interesting game that opened my eyes,” he said.