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Brave Gladiators take two-goal advantage against Equatorial Guinea in Olymplic qualifier

Brave Gladiators take two-goal advantage against Equatorial Guinea in Olymplic qualifier

By Adolf Kaure.

Brave Gladiators defeated favourites Equatorial Guinea 2-0 in the first leg of their 2024 Olympic Women’s Qualifier on Thursday 13 July at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Despite playing with an underdog tag, Namibia took home the spoils courtesy of Zenatha Coleman (34 minutes) and Ivonne Kooper (52 minutes).

According to Brave Gladiators head coach, Paulus Shipanga, he is proud of the fighting spirit the team displayed in the game.

“I am proud of the girls. They fought the best that they could and we hoped for the best,” said Shipanga.

Although Namibia is the home team, the result was an upset as Namibia is ranked 146th in the world (27th in Africa) according the latest Coca Cola FIFA Rankings, compared to their opponent’s superior 70th ranking (sixth in Africa).

Shipanga said that he wanted a three-goal advantage going into the second leg of the tie. Playing against a physically stronger opponent, he told his players during the half-time interval to rather focus on playing according to their strength, which is speed and movement.

“We decided to work on speed. When you are playing against bigger opponents, it is important to work with speed and not stand still. When you are standing still, it is their strength. Our strength is speed and fast play, so we capitlaised on that,” he said.

The coach said he has a vision of building a team that can compete on the continental front.

“I am trying to build something for the next two or three years if possible. Whatever time I get, I will make sure that I give each and every player a chance. Whether they are young or old, I will make sure that they get a cap or two,” said Shipanga.

The second leg of the tie will take place on Wednesday, 19 July at the Estadio de Malabo in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

The winner of the tie progresses to the second round of the qualification process, where the runner-up of the TotalEnergies WAFCON (Women African Cup of Nations), Morocco is waiting for a two-leg showdown on 23 and 31 October.

Round three and four of the qualifiers will take place in February and April 2024.

There are two spots reserved for African countries at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. Twenty-five nations worldwide will compete for the gold medal in the women’s football league when the games commence on 26 July 2024.

Brave Gladiators captain Zenatha Coleman (middle) celebrates Namibia’s opening goal against Equatorial Guinea with her teammates. (Photograph courtesy of COSAFA Media)


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