Namibia goalkeeper Maximilian Mbaeva insists that the Brave Warriors are not just going to next month’s Africa Cup of Nations to make up the numbers.
The Southern African country will be making their first trip to the finals in 11 years and have been drawn in a difficult Group D, alongside Bafana Bafana, Ivory Coast and Morocco, who are all former winners.
The pool has been dubbed the ‘group of death’, with the Namibians expected to be easy pickings for the other three sides. However, Mbaeva insists he does not see things that way.
Egypt is hosting Afcon this year and it will be the first time the competition is taking place in mid-year as the organisers move to align the event with the European calendar.
For Namibia, they will be appearing in the continental spectacle for the third time in their history, with their previous two appearances coming in 1998 and 2008.
They are yet to win a match in their six games thus far.
However, qualifying on its own is a big step in the right direction and Mbaeva praised coach Fillemon Kanalelo for getting them there.
Mbaeva is one of a number of Namibian players that ply their trade in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League.
The 30-year-old is a regular at Lamontville Golden Arrows, while others in the squad include the likes of Deon Hotto, Peter Shalulile, Chris Katjiukua and Virgil Vries.
Mbaeva says that having so many players operating in the Absa Premiership will undoubtedly aid them at Afcon.
The tournament in Egypt kicks off on June 21, with the final a month later on July 19. Namibia’s schedule sees them face the Moroccans in their first game on June 23, followed by a highly-anticipated local derby with their South African neighbours five days later.
They end their group action with a July 1 date against the Ivorians.
But it is that match against Bafana Bafana that they will be extra hyped for and Mbaeva believes it will not be an easy task against Stuart Baxter’s charges. – Report by Thahir Asmal
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