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Benjamin wants ‘Brave Warriors’

Collin Benjamin has challenged the Brave Warriors to take the initiative against Burundi today and punch their ticket to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast next year.

Namibia require a minimum of one point from the contest being staged in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to qualify for the finals, while their hosts Burundi need to win to boost their chances of finishing in the top two.

Benjamin has cautioned his group-topping charges against playing for a draw to rather go for the maximum three points on offer. A positive result will ensure a fourth appearance at the continental showpiece.

“We must be brave like our name says. We have the ball in our hands to qualify for the Nations Cup. All our players are fit and in good spirits ahead of this match,” said Benjamin, who was an assistant coach in 2019 when the Brave Warriors featured at the Afcon in Egypt.

Namibia impressively took four points off Cameroon in March and have suffered just one 90 minute defeat in their last eight matches.

Maintaining that positive run is non-negotiable if the Brave Warriors want to dine with the big boys in Ivory Coast, Benjamin said.

“We’ve got the strongest team that we can have at this very moment. The way they are training and what they are doing, I’m convinced that we’re gonna get the point stat we need for qualification,” said Benjamin.

The two nations are evenly matched, having both won 3-1 on their travels against each other in the 2017 Afcon qualifiers before the 1-1 draw when Namibia were hosts in Johannesburg last year.

Namibia dominated the most recent match but failed to kill off their rivals who snatched an 88th minute equaliser.

Burundi’s Swallows, under the management of Etienne Ndayiragije, come into this crucial contest on the back of a 2-2 draw with Indonesia in their most recent outing on 28 March.

Three days earlier, the Swallows also lost 3-1 to the same opponents, who were humbled 6-0 by Lionel Messi’s world champions Argentina in a friendly match on Sunday.

Having picked up just one point from their opening two qualifiers, Burundi need to win their remaining two games to make sure of qualification.

Alternatively, a victory over Namibia and a high scoring draw against Cameroon in Yaounde will suffice. That scenario would relegate Namibia to bottom of the group, leaving Burundi and Cameroon to progress with all three nations on five points.