Seychelles holds Namibia to a goalless draw as the COSAFA Cup gets underway in South Africa
Photo of the Seychelles national football team currently in South Africa, taken at the Seychelles main stadium, Stad Linite before their departure. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles national football team representing the country at the 2015 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup in South Africa managed a 0-0 draw against Namibia in its first match played on Sunday.
This was the competition’s first Group A match played at the Moruleng Stadium, near Rustenburg in South Africa.
Seychelles have been drawn in alongside Namibia, Zimbabwe and the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
According to an article published by BBC Sport, it was poor shooting that let down the Namibians who had “28 shots on goal but managed just seven on target” while it adds that “Seychelles in contrast had just four in the first game.”
"I will have to make serious changes to the team until I find someone who can score. We can't tolerate these problems anymore," BBC Sports quoted Namibia’s coach Ricardo Mannetti as saying after the match.
According to the world’s football governing body, FIFA’s ranking, Seychelles stands at 189th out of 209 countries while Namibia is ranked 114th.
Speaking to SNA in a phone interview from South Africa, the Seychelles Head Coach Ulrich Mathiot said they went into the competition conscious of the fact that two of the teams in Group A, Namibia, and Zimbabwe are featured much higher than Seychelles in the FIFA ranking and would be tough opponents, but had gone into the game on Sunday with one objective - not to lose the match.
The Seychelles team has been in South Africa since May 10 where the players have had some test matches as part of their training camp before the tournament.
“It’s a bit difficult to believe that we did not concede any goals in Sunday’s match, even for the players this has not sunk in yet. We engaged mostly in counter attacks as the Namibian players are very fast,” Mathiot told SNA.
“In the end we have managed the game quite well and we even got close to scoring in the last minutes of the match but Rennick Esther’s attempt was saved by the goalkeeper.”
Mathiot says all the players are doing well and adapting well to the chilly weather and now they are getting ready to face another tough opponent, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday.
While Mathiot has congratulated all his players for putting up a good show, it is to be noted that Seychelles’ Karl Hall who plays for St Michel, one of clubs that play in the island nation's Barclays League, was singled out and named ‘Man of the Match’ and according to Mathiot the young player has even caught the attention of a few South African coaches.
The Seychelles Head Coach says such competition is a platform for the Seychellois players to showcase their talents while adding that he hopes they will use the tournament to improve on issues that arise for future competitions ahead.
At the same time, the Seychelles entourage is also monitoring the games being played by the neighbouring Indian Ocean island teams of Madagascar and Mauritius as they will all be playing alongside each other in the upcoming Indian Ocean island games in Madagascar.
In the other Group A match played on Sunday, Zimbabwe managed to beat the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius 2-0.
Today will see the opening games of Group B where Lesotho will be playing Madagascar while Tanzania will be taking on Swaziland.
Seychelles and the other Group A contenders will be back in action on Tuesday where the Indian Ocean archipelago will face Zimbabwe and Mauritius will play Namibia. Then on Thursday, Seychelles will play against its Indian Ocean neighbour – Mauritius.
The COSAFA competition which is seeing the participation of 14 teams this year will be played until May 30.
COSAFA is made up of Angola, Botswana, the Comoros Islands, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The group stage of the competition is seeing the eight lower ranked teams according to the FIFA rankings compete to stand a chance of coming on top to be able to advance to the quarterfinals.
At the end of the group stage, the winner of group B will meet Ghana while the winner of Group A will play against Zambia the competition’s defending champion in the quarterfinals which will see a total of six higher ranked teams enter the competition.
Apart from Zambia and Ghana, the quarterfinal stage will also include Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa and Botswana.
It is to be noted that Ghana and Tanzania are guests nations in this year’s COSAFA Cup replacing Angola and the Comoros who are not participating.
For the Seychelles national football team, the COSAFA competition is also preparation for the players who will have to play another two international competitions before they head to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion in August for the Indian Ocean island games.
In June, Seychelles will meet Algeria in the first leg of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, and the team will also have to compete in the 2016 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers.