'No regrets' taken from Liberia draw

The Namibia coach insists in his belief in the young guns, who has to rebound quick for Sunday's assignment against Tunisia.
Andrew Poolman
Namibia head coach Collin Benjamin has admitted that inexperience in his new-look Brave Warriors team was a major factor in the 1-1 draw against Liberia in their Fifa World Cup 2026 qualifying match on Wednesday.

The drawn match, played at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto in South Africa, has relegated Namibia to second place in CAF Group H with seven points.

Tunisia secured the top spot with nine points in the group when they defeated Equatorial Guinea 1-0. Liberia remains on four points, followed by Malawi (3), São Tomé and Príncipe (0) and Equatorial Guinea (0).

Namibia will play Tunisia in Soweto on Sunday at 18:00.

Unam FC’s Tjipe Karuuombe was put into space and score the early opener, before Liberia struck back with a Terry Sackor equaliser after 65 minutes.

At the post-match media press conference, Benjamin said the lack of experience hampered their ambition of attaining maximum points from the fixture, but has been given them some pointers to address before their next fixture in the qualifiers.

“We took an early lead, and usually when you’re 1-0 ahead after eight minutes you should have control and you just have to be smart and manage the game, but the players got carried away and started kicking the ball everywhere. We could not find the unmarked player and in the process Liberia grew stronger in the contest.

“In the second half, we had numerous long throw-ins which we didn’t handle well, leading to conceding a goal that shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

“This learning curve during this rebuilding process may be brutal, but we have to take it on. In our starting eleven, we had five players brand new at international level, but they need the game time.

Even though they lost crucial points, Benjamin remains positive, stating that they will regroup and improve for the upcoming game against Tunisia.

The absent sniper

Peter Shalulile, the captain and striker who was absent through injury, “would have scored with one eye closed” on some of the few goal-scoring opportunities presented during the match, but the coach insists that the youngsters involved will learn from the experience.

“I am happy with the performance of the new guys, despite it being a challenge of balancing between giving exposure to young players and the need to secure log points.

“The team members who are now seniors like Deon Hotto, Charles Hambira, Riaan Hanamub (captain) and others should provide leadership, the same as when they were mentored when they started out,” Benjamin said.

He lamented the absence of atmosphere in the empty neutral venue Orlando Stadium, in order to drive the passion of the national players to new heights, as a home crowd would normally have done.

Ahead of the Tunisia match on Sunday, Benjamin said Tunisia is the strongest and most experienced opponent in the group, but he is confident in his team’s approach.

The Brave Warriors hurt Tunisia with a historic 1-0 win at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Ivory Coast earlier this year when Deon Hotto scored off a Bethuel Muzeu cross. As a football powerhouse on the continent, Tunisia will be expected to bounce back hard.

Muzeu became unavailable against Liberia when he sustained an injury on the training field the day before.