Afcon 2019: Mannetti set sights guiding on Namibia to first win

Ricardo Mannetti & Willy Stephanus, Namibia, June 2019
The Windhoek-born trainer is on a mission at 2019 Afcon finals as he wants people to take note of Namibian football

Namibia head coach Ricardo Mannetti is proud of his latest achievement, having played and finally coached at the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

The retired midfielder previously played at the finals on 1998 in Burkina Faso, and is now returning as a coach in the 2019 tournament in Egypt.

”I came to this tournament in 1998 as a player, bringing our country for the first time to the tournament. We were inexperienced and rookies," Mannetti told the Namibia National Football (NFF) website.

"Now I’m here coaching and that feeling is priceless and difficult to explain. I feel fortunate to have been here as a player and as a coach, not many people can do it."

Mannetti and his first assistant coach Ronnie Kananelo, who is a retired goalkeeper, were part of the Brave Warriors team that played in the same group as current foes South Africa and Ivory Coast, 21 years ago.

Namibia opened their 2019 campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Morocco's Atlas Lions as the Southern African side made its return to the finals following a 15-year absence.

Collin Benjamin was part of the Brave Warriors team which took part in the 2008 tournament in Ghana, and the retired defender is now Mannetti's second assistant.

Mannetti also praised Southern Africa's regional tournament, the Cosafa Cup, which gave him the platform to prove himself as a coach.

The former Cape Town Santos midfielder guided his side to a historic maiden Cosafa Cup title in 2015, and he has since led the team to the Afcon finals.

“Cosafa have a record of five teams at the finals this year and I started this journey about six years ago and the Cosafa Cup have given me as a young coach and my players the opportunity to grow," Mannetti added.

"And we finally here at our world cup. We now want people to take note of Namibia football."

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Mannetti, 44, will be looking to mastermind Namibia's first-ever victory at the Afcon finals when they face their neigbours, South Africa, on Friday.