Namibia hearts broken by late own goal.

Hakim Ziyech of Morocco celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Namibia at Training at Al-Salaam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 23 June 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Hakim Ziyech of Morocco celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Namibia at Training at Al-Salaam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 23 June 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Ricardo Mannetti had said before this game that the Africa Cup of Nations is like Namibia’s World Cup.

And as Namibian players dropped to their knees at the final whistle yesterday, having dragged the mighty Morocco so close to a point, once could see just how much it meant.

Brave Warriors indeed. Namibia lived up to their nickname, holding the mighty Atlas Lions, one of the favourites to win this competition, right up until the final minute of normal time, when substitute Itamunua Keimuine diverted a free kick past his own goalkeeper.

The Moroccan fans in the crowd went wild with delight, but this was a below-par performance from Herve Renard’s side, who came into this competition on the back of friendly defeats to Gambia and Zambia.

Hakim Ziyech’s class flickered at times, but his finishing was woeful, in fact the Atlas Lions finishing in general was pathetic, and it was fitting that they won via a Namibian mistake.

Namibia didn’t really threaten at the other end, their main aim clearly to keep out Morocco, though Bidvest Wits’ Deon Hottto so nearly got on the end of an Absalom Limbondi cross just short of the hour mark.

But their gameplan was clearly to play for at worst a goalless draw, and in that they performed admirably,  Manfred Zanke, one of only Europe-based players in the Namibia squad, doing well in front of his back four who were all heroic in defending a flurry of Morocco attacks, even if Renard’s team helped them with their own dismal display.

In the end, however, Namibia were denied just their third ever point at their third ever Afcon, as Ziyech swung in a free kick, and Keimunine hit the back of his own net.

 

 

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