Namibia
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Shipanga relishes Gladiators challenge

Brave Gladiators’ head coach Paulus Shipanga intends to select “the best” players to face powerhouses Equatorial Guinea over two legs of 2024 Olympic qualifiers next month.

He will run the rule over a 43-member training squad named on Sunday to prepare for the first round qualifying encounters.

Namibia hosts two-time African champions Equatorial Guinea on 13 July at the Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg before facing the Nzalang Femenino away in Malabo on 18 July.

“It’s a really one of those tough assignments. But, in football I don’t think you find any easy opponents. On the day, they can prove worthy or the toughness that they have,” Shipanga told The Namibian Sport yesterday.

Only two African countries will qualify for Paris 2024 following the completion of the qualifiers.

“But, I’m ready for the assignment and I hope my players will be ready to push to our best. We’ll try to have the best to represent the country,” he said.

“It’s not gonna be easy, time-wise, there’s not enough time to prepare for such huge games but, we have to do what we can and how we can.”

With the exception of the foreign-based stars, all players were due to report for camp at the Namibia Football Association (NFA) Girls’ Centre on Sunday to start training today.

As well plotting a game plan to overcome the 2011 Fifa Women’s Cup finalists, Shipanga will use the camp to get the fitness levels up.

“We will push them and give them a run for their money. We won’t lay down for them. It’s just a concern of fitness level; on the last day of the last weekend of the FNB Women Super League, the fitness level is at 60 to 70%. There are one or two players showing signs of 100%,” Shipanga said.

A total of 25 teams have entered the Olympic qualifying tournament, with 18 set to be involved in the first round. The remaining seven, headlined by champions South Africa are the highest ranked teams from last year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) and will join the competition in the second round.

The nine winners from the first round will join the seven highest ranked teams for a second-round tie involving 16 teams. The eight winners progress to the third round, then the fourth round where the teams will be whittled to four, with the victors qualifying for the final tournament.

At the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Zambia represented Africa, and the She-polopolo will start their journey towards a possible back-to-back qualification in the second round.

In the Brave Gladiators training squad are:

GOALKEEPERS

Lydia Eixas (Girls & Goals), Agnes Kauzuu (Tura Magic), Marinskey Vries (Arrows), Melissa Matheus (Beauties), Queindra Batista (Unam), Sarafina Khuruses (Namib Daughters);

DEFENDERS

Nelago Kasheeta (NamPol), Lovisa Mulunga, Emma Naris, Lydiana Nanamus (all Tura Magic), Usuta Rutjindo and Vijakura Tjingaete (both Girls & Goals), Evita Philander, Kamunikire Tjituka and Mbakondja Kahiriri (all Beauties), Veweziwa Kotkipati (Borussia Monchengladbach, GER), Mercia Skrywer (Namib Daughters), Tangi Mukundu (Unam), Ndapewa Katuta (NamPol), Ivone Kooper (Tura Magic);

MIDFIELDERS

Memory Ngonda and Juliana Blou (both Tura Magic), Shamila Damases (Beauties), Blacnce Daries, Kylei van Wyk and Shanda Cloete (all Girls & Goals), Milicent Hikuam and Anouschka Kordom (Capital Atletica, USA), Ignacia Hoases (Namib Daughters), Lorraine Jossob (Arrows), Miltret Ujamba (Unam), Ana-Ida Somses (V-power Angels), Twelikondjela Maukoto, Evalito Ulumbu and Helena Shuumbwa (all NamPol);

FORWARDS

Tjamunene Ndjavera and Beverly Uueziua (both Girls & Goals), Fiola Vliete (Beauties), Anna-Marie Shikusho (Tura Magic), Kamutuua Hanavi and Hilary Gontes (both Unam), Zenatha Coleman (Fenerbache, TUR) and Jekohasana Kamatjipose (Arrows).