Windhoek – Namibia and Mozambique have begun preparations for the 2021 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) that will be hosted by Mauritania in February.
Mozambique and Namibia are Southern Africa’s representatives at the tournament after their junior men’s sides reached the final of the U20 COSAFA Championship late last year.
Mozambique has organised two training camps, the first of which was a 10-day programme that started in the first week of January with coach Dário Monteiro taking a 26-man squad through the paces in Songo. After Songo, the team will move to Nampula for the players to get a feel of playing on artificial turf.
“It will serve to adapt and recover from the effort (of winning the COSAFA Championship), and ascertain the condition in which the players have returned from the holidays that we gave them for the festive season,” Monteiro told the COSAFA website.
The Mozambican Football Federation also wants to host a four-team tournament to test the national Under-20 side against provincial selections from Nampula, Niassa and Zambézia.
“That will give us the opportunity to look for other young players who can join the national team for the camps and for Cup of Nations,” said Monteiro.
Nampula, according to Monteiro, also offered similar climatic conditions and the high temperatures expected in Mauritania.
After the second training camp, players get a break from January 21 to 31, after which the team flies out to Mauritania.
The Young Warriors of Namibia, who made a fine run to the U20 COSAFA Championship final, also started training last week at the NFA Technical Centre as the team prepares to make its maiden appearance at the U20 AFCON finals.
In all, 40 players were called up to the provisional squad after trials at Sam Nujoma Stadium
“We narrowed down the team and most of the players were unfit because of the current football situation we find ourselves in (were COVID-19 has restricted sporting activity); that’s why most players that made up the team were from the Khomas Region. The Khomas Region had active leagues and the players were up to standard in terms of fitness and tactical skills,” said Namibia coach James Britz.
He added: “The first week of training will serve to adapt, recover and ascertain the condition in which the players have returned from the holidays and how the new players will blend in with the current players.”