Author Topic: Brave Gladiators poised for Zimbabwe friendlies  (Read 1454 times)

Offline David

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Brave Gladiators poised for Zimbabwe friendlies
« on: January 12, 2007, 09:55:50 AM »
THE Namibia women's soccer team, known as the Brave Gladiators, have started with preparations for their Africa Group Olympic Games qualifier first-round encounter against the Democratic Republic of Congo next month.

The DRC are an unknown factor to the local girls but they are rated in the top five nations in Zone Six, which is an indication that our girls will have their hands full during the February 17 first-leg clash in Windhoek.

The second and decisive leg is scheduled for March 11 in the war-torn Central African country and our girls will have to perform very exceptionally in their home tie in order to qualify for the second round of the 2008 Olympics.

The Gladiators embarked upon a rigorous fitness training programme under the watchful eye of assistant coach Jacqueline Shipanga on Wednesday morning, in the absence of national coach Gabriel Freyer.

Freyer, one of the most experienced and respected soccer coaches in the region, is still attending to personal matters in his home town of Mariental and he is expected to join the team sometime this week.

On the other hand, Shipanga is no rookie in women's football at all.

After retiring from playing a few years ago, the former star defender completed her International Master's degree in sport management last year.

The girls were thoroughly taken through their paces by Shipanga during the opening session of their training camp, which will keep one of the fastest improving teams of Zone Six together for a period of over a month.

The team has started with roadwork to improve their fitness after a long lay-off since their very successful campaign in the Confederation of Southern Africa Football Association (Cosafa) Games played in Zambia last year.

The Cosafa Games, which were played during August, gave local football hope and high expectations of the progress of the women's national team after they surpassed all expectations to reach the final, which they eventually lost to South Africa.

"We are very excited about the Olympic qualifiers and the girls are all drilled up to give it a real go.

We know that the nation is watching and the expectations are high.

Hence, we want to make it a memorable event for all Namibians.

"The Government is very helpful and they gave us a huge logistic as well as financial support while the NFA is also very accommodative with their assistance, all thanks to NFA President John Muinjo's passion for women's soccer," said NFA exco member Jacky Gertze, who is in charge of women's football.

The girls will have an opportunity to pit their strength against their Zimbabwean counterparts in two international friendlies to be contested on January 26 and 27 in Windhoek.

Namibia has already tasted defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe.

"I must say that we are very excited to have secured two friendlies against a powerful side like Zimbabwe.

They are regarded as one of the top three teams in Zone Six and they will provide us with very valuable competition and exposure.

"We could not have wished for a better opponent then them.

We still have memories of the 11-0 and 4-2 hidings they handed us during the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and we look at ways of redeeming ourselves from those results," she noted.

She further stressed that despite her respect for the girls from Harare, she does not find a reason why the youthful Gladiators could not surprise their much-fancied opponents with a shock results.

"The ball is round and you have 22 players chasing it.

It is true that some players are more talented than the others.

But it demands hard work through thorough preparation and a boost of confidence to be on top of your game.

"These girls that are representing our nation have talent.

This is probably the best team we have ever assembled since Independence.

These girls are very serious and they have the heart of a lioness.

They have success on their minds," Jacky enthused.

Currently, a crop of 25 players are attending the training camp and the team is expected to be cut down to 20 a day before the first international friendly against Zimbabwe on Friday, January 26.

The squad includes three schoolgirls, defender Stacey Naris, all-rounder Leandri Lucas and midfielder Toshi Hausiku.

Naris is the star defender of the team at right-back while Lucas is a versatile player who is best suited for the striker's position.

Nine changes were made to the squad that represented Namibia in the Cosafa Games last year.

Magdalena Swartbooi, Stefanie Cloete, Gail Gowases, Chairmain Swartbooi, Petronella Gaës, Inge Katambo, Magdalena Hansen, Rozantta Platt and Toshi Hausiku are the new kids on the block.

The full squad: Benitha Eixas, Magdalena Swartbooi, Novata Paulus, Sussana Eises, Helvi Eliakim (captain), Elskamine Cooper, Stacey Naris, Zuma Hamata, Stefani Hummel, Elmarie Fredericks, Queen Manga, Salomé Iyambo, Stefanie Cloete, Gail Gowases, Charmaine Swartbooi, Petronella Gaës, Inge Katambo, Bianga Fredericks, Juliana Skrywer, Leandri Lucas, Magdalena Hansen, Stella Williams, Mary Jacobs, Rozantta Platt and Toshi Hausiku.