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Warriors off to battle in Durban

Collin Benjamin retained 13 Brave Warriors from last year’s relatively successful Cosafa Cup for the upcoming edition in Durban, South Africa.

They finished runners-up then, losing a closely contested final 1-0 to Zambia after extra time and are looking to “go as far as possible” in the tournament once again.

Taking charge of a third Cosafa Cup tournament assignment, head coach Collin Benjamin has made no secret of his desire to add to the country’s only senior international title when they won the competition in 2015.

His 22-man squad, which left for Durban yesterday, is a blend of youth and experienced Warriors, with the novices outnumbering their seasoned campaigners.

With no friendly matches to blood youngsters, Benjamin is heavily reliant on the regional showpiece competition to mould his side, hence the need to keep old heads like Denzil Haoseb, Absalom Iimbondi and Ananias Gebhardt around.

The players are essentially auditioning for places in the full squad which has one foot at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ivory Coast early next year.

And Benjamin will be guaranteed two more matches to run the rule over his charges, should the Brave Warriors overcome hosts South Africa, common neighbours Botswana and Eswatini to make it to the semi-finals from Group A.

Namibia face Bafana Bafana on Wednesday, then Eswatini King’s Shield on Saturday, before concluding the pool action against the Zebras of Botswana.

Only the top team in each pool automatically advance to the semis, with one spot in the last four reserved for the best-placed runner-up.

Based on the latest Fifa rankings, South Africa are the top-ranked team in the region, placed number 62 on the global list and 12th on the African continent.

Namibia are third at 112 globally and 26th in Africa, while Eswatini edge Botswana with a ranking of 146 to 147 in the world and 43 to 44 in Africa.

The Brave Warriors squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Edward Maova (Pretoria Callies), Ndisiro Kamaijanda (African Stars), Jonas Mateus (Orlando Pirates);

Defenders: Brandon Neibeb (Orlando Pirates), Ivan Kamberipa (Masitaoka, BOT), Kennedy Amutenya (Gaborone United, BOT), Ananias Gebhardt (Baroka, RSA), Steven Damaseb (Blue Waters), Denzil Haoseb (Black Africa), Aprocius Petrus (Liria Prizren);

Midfielders: Reverend Matroos (Young Brazilians), Devin Somseb (Life Fighters), Ngero Kaanjuka and Paulus Amutenya (both Unam), Edmar Kamatuka, Dynamo Fredericks and Joslin Kamatuka (all African Stars), Absalom Iimbondi (Tigers), Marcel Papama and Wendell Rudath (both Jwaneng Galaxy, BOT);

Forwards: Junior Petrus (Blue Waters), Bethuel Muzeu (Black Leopards, RSA), Elmo Kambindu (Chippa United, RSA).