Bafana Bafana had better win their opening Afcon match against Ivory Coast this afternoon – moving past Group D isn’t going to be easy.
And Namibia’s coach has warned that his team might just end up being a catalyst in the permutations of Group D.
Speaking after their 1-0 defeat to Morocco on Sunday, Namibia's coach Ricardo Mannetti was frank about his team’s realistic chances in the competition but he stopped short of saying the Brave Warriors were in Egypt to be party poopers.
Ivory Coast vs South Africa, 4.30pm
Tunisia vs Angola,7.30pm
Mali vs Mauritania, 10pm
His side’s spirited effort was undone by an own goal late in the game, which handed Morocco the immediate leadership of the group.
South Africa need a positive start to keep up with the pace. Bafana still have to face Namibia in their second game on Friday and Morocco next Monday.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’ll play an important role deciding who is gonna go through. We are happy to play that role,” said Mannetti.
Namibia’s last appearance in the competition dates back to the 2008 edition in Ghana.
“I’ve mentioned it a couple of times that we know our strength and weaknesses,” continued Mannetti.
“I’ve seen throughout the world people have a problem with defensive football. But you need to ask why is that specific team play defensive? Is it about the quality or about the deficiencies you have. And then you chose a specific tactic to play that way.
“So it’s not that I’d love to play defensive football – at times we are forced to play that way. For the second game [against South Africa] I can’t tell you how we are going to line up.
“It’s a southern region derby. Obviously it will be a little bit different. There will be emotions involved.
Unfortunately I cannot give Bafana the luxury of telling them whether we’re going to defend, playing attacking football or whether it will be pound for pound.”
Meanwhile, Morocco coach Hervé Renard also weighed in on the difficulties of playing against the so-called minnows in the tournament and cited the weekend’s results as examples.
“I think you saw when this competition started [on Friday] that it was not easy for Egypt at home with 75 000 fans [in their 1-0 win over Zimbabwe]; it was difficult for DR Congo because they lost against Uganda [2-0]; and it was difficult for Guinea in their 2-2 against Madagascar.
“[Also] it was not easy for Nigeria who beat Burundi [1-0] in the last few minutes and today it was the same,” added the Frenchman in reference to his side’s fortuitous win on Sunday
But Mannetti tips Morocco to go all the way.
“To win the tournament you need depth and flexibility and that’s what Morocco has.
They can go to the final and lift the trophy.”
Results so far
Algeria 2-0 Kenya
Senegal 2-0 Tanzania
Morocco 0-1 Namibia
Guinea 2-2 Madagascar
Nigeria 1-0 Burundi
DR Congo 0-2 Uganda
Egypt 1-0 Zimbabwe