The COSAFA Cup 2015 gets underway on Sunday with two matches from Group A that will make for an intriguing start to the regional championship to be staged in South Africa’s North West province.
Powerhouse Zimbabwe take on Mauritius and the Moruleng Stadium at 17h30, but before that the tournament opener sees Namibia clash with Seychelles at the same venue at 15h00.
Namibia have high hopes of reaching the quarterfinals, but have had to deal with the late loss of veteran striker Henrico Botes, who was not released by his South African club.
He has been replaced by Tura Magic striker Itamunua Keimuine, while Gaborone United Benson Shilongo will be another late arrival as he joins up with the squad after his club side play their final Botswana Premier League match of the season on Saturday afternoon.
Fortunately it is a short drive from Botswana into the North West province.
Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti says he believes Group A is open and that anybody can beat anybody else on their day.
“It’s a very mixed group and looking at it you have to say there will be no easy games,” Mannetti says. “I think everybody will be a little wary of everybody else. We certainly won’t underestimate anybody. In 2013 we played both Mauritius and Seychelles in the pool stages and although we won both matches, it was tight.
“They were difficult games and I expect it to be the same this year. Then there is Zimbabwe, we all know how strong they are, but we also hope they will not underestimate us and our strengths. We are desperate to go to the next round.”
Seychelles have won just one of their previous 13 COSAFA Cup matches outright, but that was a stunning 7-0 success over Mauritius in 2008.
They did enjoy a win on penalties over Namibia in 2006, but lost 4-2 when these sides met in Zambia two years ago.
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