Namibia, Congo set for Soweto clash

Namibia, Congo set for Soweto clash
Hardy Binguila of Congo

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Sep 01, 2021. 13:00

Namibia and Congo will open their 2022 World Cup Qualifying Group H campaigns with a meeting at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, South Africa on the evening of Thursday 2 September 2021, kick-off at 18:00 CAT.

Namibia were stripped of home advantage for this tie, with their usual venues in Windhoek, the Independence Stadium and Sam Nujoma Stadium, not deemed up to scratch by CAF inspectors.

The Brave Warriors, who have never appeared at the World Cup and also missed out on qualification for the next Africa Cup of Nations, were last in action at the COSAFA Cup in South Africa. They registered wins over Senegal and Zimbabwe, but narrowly missed out on a place in the semifinals.

Coach Bobby Samaria is disappointed not to be playing in Windhoek, but believes playing in South Africa has its advantages: “Most of our professional players are based there, so playing at Orlando Stadium will be like a second home for them. Also, now with Covid-19, spectators won’t be allowed and teams won’t have the 12th man advantage that the spectators bring.”

He added, “It’s very important to get off on a winning note, but it goes without saying that it’s a very tough group if you look at the rankings. But if we have the belief, we can get good results.”

Congo, who like their opponents have never played at the global showpiece and also missed out on AFCON qualification, were last in action in June, claiming a 1-0 win over Niger in a friendly at the Emirhan Sports Complex in Side, Turkey.

The Red Devils’ coach, Paul Put, has left out key men Fernand Mayembo and Thievy Bifouma from his squad, and is looking to inject some new blood with the likes of Nolan Mbemba, Beni Makouana, Vladis Emerson Illoy and Hardy Binguila.

In head-to-head stats, Namibia and Congo have met in four previous matches across all competitions and friendlies dating back to their first clash in 1998. The Red Devils have claimed three wins compared to one for the Brave Warriors.

The teams’ most recent meeting was in an AFCON qualifier in May 2014, with Congo recording an emphatic 3-0 home win at Stade Alphonse Massemba-Débat, Brazzaville.

Following this match, Namibia will go on to face Togo in Lome on September 5, while Congo will welcome Senegal to Brazzaville on September 7.

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