Soccer Africa

Namibia Look to Maintain 100% Record in World Cup Qualifiers

After their heroics in getting to the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in January, Namibia now turn their sights to World Cup qualification and their clash with Liberia at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Wednesday (kick off 6pm).

Namibia, forced to move their home game after their stadiums in Windhoek were not passed for use in the World Cup qualifiers by the Confederation of African Football, have a 100% record in Group H campaign after their opening two fixtures in November.

Although they lost away to Equatorial Guinea in their first match, they have been awarded a 3-0 victory by FIFA after it was found that Equatorial Guinea used a defaulter in their opening two matches.

Namibia also beat Sao Tome e Principe away in November and so go into the third round of matches top of the table, ahead of favourites Tunisia on goal difference.

Only the group winner will qualify for the 20265 World Cup finals, being co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

Liberia also benefitted from the FIFA ruling after losing at home to both Malawi and Equatorial Guinea in their opening two qualifiers in Monrovia. But they now have three points, even if their start to the campaign was far from convincing.

But Namibia coach Collin Benjamin has more pressing concerns, notably over the fitness of his star striker Peter Shalulile, who missed Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final. Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena said he had picked up a “freak injury” in training on the eve of the match against Orlando Pirates in Nelspruit, where Deon Hotto finished on the winning side.

Missing from Namibia’s side is Ananias Gebhardt, competing in the Premier Soccer League playoffs with Baroka but having last month announced his retirement from international football, and the England-based fullback Ryan Nyambe, who is injured.

Namibia played a friendly encounter against Lesotho in Soweto on Saturday with Erastus Kalula opening the scoring for the Brave Warriors in the second half but Lesotho then equalising for a 1-1 draw.

Liberia arrived in Johannesburg on Sunday with a squad that has undergone change after they scraped through against Djibouti over two legs in March in the preliminary round qualifiers for the 2025 Cup of Nations finals in Morocco.

Only eight of the 23-man squad based outside of Liberia as new coach Mario Marinica, who was appointed in February and formerly led Malawi, has overhauled the team.

It will be the fifth time that Liberia and Namibia meet with one win apiece and two goalless draws.

NAMIBIA SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Loydt Kazapua (Chippa United, South Africa), Jonas Mateus (Ongos),

Kamaijanda Ndisiro (African Stars)

Defenders: Arend Abubakir (Blue Waters), Paulus Amutenya (Unam), Erasmus Ikeinge (Khomas Nampol), Charles Hambira (African Stars), Riaan Hanamub (AmaZulu, South Africa), Edmund Kambanda (African Stars), Ivan Kamberipa (Orapa United), Tjipee Karuoombe (Unam), Tuli Nashixwa (Tigers)

Midfielders: Lawrence Doeseb, Fares Haidula (both Chula Chula), Deon Hotto (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Erastus Kalula (Blue Waters), Edmar Kamatuka (Sekhukhune United, South Africa), Romeo Kasume (Matebele, Botswana), Punaije Katjimune (Unam), Ndjiraera Maharero (African Stars), Rikambura Muundjua (Young African), Ben Namib (Khomas Nampol), David Ndeunyema (Blue Waters), Aprocius Petrus (Cape Town City, South Africa), Moses Shidolo (Chula Chula)

Forwards: Betheul Muzeu (Black Leopards, South Africa), McCartney Nawaseb (Matebele, Botswana), Peter Shalulile (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Gonzales Tsubeb (Police XI), Kleophas Uiseb (Orapa).