Namibia aim to show ‘SA parents’ how they’ve grown in Bafana Afcon clash

Namibia’s Deon Daniel Hotto celebrates goal during 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match against Tunisia. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Namibia’s Deon Daniel Hotto celebrates goal during 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match against Tunisia. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Published Jan 18, 2024


Namibia’s epic win over 2004 champions Tunisia in Ivory Coast on Tuesday evening will rank among the greatest upsets at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Their 1-0 triumph in their Group E clash marked their first Afcon finals victory.

Namibia went into the match with a winless record after nine matches at three Afcon tournaments. It was also the first time that Namibia had kept a clean sheet at the event.

With a world ranking of 28, Tunisia are the third-highest-ranked team at this year’s tournament. Namibia, at 118 on the rankings, are among the four lowest-ranked teams campaigning in Ivory Coast.

This famous result ranks alongside the two greatest Afcon upsets of the previous tournament in 2021 in Cameroon.

Ghana were unceremoniously dumped of that tournament when they lost 3-2 to Comoros in their final pool match, while Gambia – one of the smallest nations on the continent – claimed the mighty scalp of Tunisia in their final pool game to advance to the round of 16.

Thanks to a match-winning strike late in the match by Orlando Pirates midfielder Deon Hotto, the Brave Warriors of Namibia did their country proud on Tuesday.

Hotto latched onto a long ball over the top and outpaced the defence, before coolly slotting past keeper Bechir Ben Said.

Earlier, a wasteful Peter Shalulile, the Mamelodi Sundowns marksman, missed a few chances to score a couple of goals as he failed to convert decent passes.

Namibian coach Collin Benjamin, who ended his playing career in Germany with Hamburg and 1860 Munich, said no one expected them to claim the famous Group E scalp.

“It is an ecstatic feeling that I can’t describe. I am proud to be Namibian and be a coach of these players. We were never really given a chance,” said Benjamin.

“We are just happy that we could go on the field and play a good match and win.

“I can only imagine what is happening in the streets of Namibia right now. This victory is dedicated to them.

“Tonight, of course, we celebrate, but tomorrow it is back to normal – back to the grindstone and working hard as a team and for our people back home.”

Since many of Namibia’s players ply their trade in the PSL, the Brave Warriors are mockingly referred to as South Africa’s ‘second team’.

Apart from Hotto and Shalulile, the current squad includes Loydt Kazapua (Chippa United), Edward Maova (Pretoria Callies), Ananias Gebhardt (Baroka), Riaan Hanamub (AmaZulu), Lubeni Haukongo (Cape Town Spurs), Joslin Kamatuka (Maritzburg United) and Bethuel Muzeu (Black Leopards), who are all based in Mzansi.

Next up for Namibia will be neighbours Bafana Bafana, and Benjamin is savouring a southern African derby in Sunday’s Group E clash in Korhogo.

“I think we had this fixture at the last edition when we were there in Egypt. It’s always something special playing against South Africa,” said Benjamin.

“Most of our boys play in SA … It is a second home for them.

“They must show their SA parents what they have learned in the league, but also show their Namibian parents that they are proudly Namibian.

“I think for the region, it is good and for our countries, it is very good. We are looking forward to that fixture.

“We are going to do our preparations for the derby against our neighbours, and hope for a good competition.”