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Warriors drop clanger

The Brave Warriors’ 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification is no longer in their hands after crashing 3-2 to Burundi in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, yesterday.

A calamitous first-half display proved the undoing for Namibia who were in the driver’s seat going into the encounter, but now find themselves in danger of missing out on the finals in Ivory Coast.

Namibia still top Group C on five points, followed by Cameroon and then Burundi on four each, with the latter two closing out the group in September.

A victory for the Indomitable Lions will see them qualify along with Namibia, while a win for Burundi will send the East Africans and the Brave Warriors through to the finals early next year.

A high-scoring draw between Cameroon and Burundi would eliminate Namibia altogether.

The Swallows raced into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes, capitalising on a series of defensive blunders from the visitors.

First, stand-in goalkeeper Eduard Maova flapped at a cross from the right, with the ball dropping at the feet of Bonfils Bimenyimana who struck the post but Abedi Bigirimana was on hand to stroke home the rebound.

For the second goal, the Brave Warriors defenders were caught ball watching as another cross in the box saw an unchallenged Bigirimana nod the ball down to Bimenyimana who found the back of the net.

More comical defending presented Burundi with the third goal.

This time Hussein Shabani walked past a static Namibia rearguard to chip the ball over the advancing Maova.

Visibly concerned Brave Warriors coach Collin Benjamin responded by making a double substitution, hauling off experienced duo Riaan !Hanamub and Haoseb for Aprocious Petrus and Kennedy Amutenya on 28 minutes.

Warriors captain Peter Shalulile pulled one back just before the break, but that is as good as it got for Namibia.

Substitute Wendell Rudath scored with a deflected long-range shot to bring Namibia within striking distance on 85 minutes and set up a nervy finish.

However, Burundi, who next play Cameroon in September, held firm to see out the entertaining encounter.