By Maqonda Ndlovu
Windhoek – Brave Warriors head coach Ricardo Mannetti faces a striker dilemma ahead of the crucial 8 September Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Zambia.
Peter Shalulile is a doubtful starter for the match, as reports from South Africa indicate that he will only resume training within the next three to four weeks as he is nursing an ankle injury he sustained while playing for his club last season.
So is Panduleni Nekundi, who has been training on and off since the team went into camp a month ago complaining of an abductor muscle injury, which limited his performance at the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations Castle Cup in June in Polokwane, South Africa.
Pinehas Willem tore his Achilles tendon and will be out for three months, effectively ruling him out of the tie.
Hendrick Somaeb has also been in and out of training through injury and last trained two weeks ago, which has left the coach with Muna Katupose and Egypt-based Benson Shilongo as the only two fit main strikers.
Sadney Urikhob joined the training camp last week, but was befallen by tragedy this weekend when his brother passed away.
This means he will not be able to train until the funeral is over, which could be either this weekend or the next.
Speaking to Nampa on Monday, Mannetti said he is happy with the effort from Katupose, who did not play much football last year following an injury.
“He is currently the only striker that’s training regularly and that is very positive. He is looking in his best shape. [Shilongo] is doing well in Egypt and Deon Hotto also gives us options in that department,” he said. With regards to Urikhob who has seemingly fallen out of favour, Mannetti said the player requested a meeting with him last week and the two met to discuss and solve issues which had strained their relationship. This led to the nomadic striker being invited to train with the team, with the aim of having him match fit for the Zambia encounter.
“He is not far off in terms of fitness, but with the sad news that we just received about his brother, I do not know how long he will stay away from training, meaning his fitness may suffer,” Mannetti said.
He said they will continue monitoring the injured strikers leading up to the game.
The coach also believes his strong midfield will help the team as Dynamo Fredericks, Wangu Gome, Captain Ronald Katjijere and Marcel Papama are fit.
Namibia is in Group K alongside Zambia, Mozambique and Guinea.
Mozambique currently heads the group with three points, while Guinea, also on three points, is in second position.
Namibia and Zambia are third and fourth respectively with no points after losing their opening games.
The Africa Cup of Nations will take place in Cameroon from 7 to 30 June next year. - Nampa