Following the resignation of former Welwitschia coach, Danie Vermeulen, less than two months ago, we began to suspect the impact the move could have had.
Rather let me say, it could still have. Unlike Richardo Mannetti, fellow national team coach, who left his post following a misunderstanding in the contract negotiations with the Namibian Football Association (NFA), Vermeulen left just a few months before Namibia’s biggest rugby competition for at least the next four years, the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Mannetti left, temporarily, after already winning the biggest trophy in Namibia.
And again unlike Mannetti, Vermeulen has not returned.
It is always preferable and great to see a Namibian leading a Namibian team, but since former Welsh lock and Welwitschia technical advisor, the team has been doing well and as it stands I cannot say Vermeulen is being missed based off the performances and results.
Coming from a series of friendlies Namibia has been playing in preparation for the World Cup, which starts in September, the team has won all four games, capping of the streak with an impressive 80-6 win over rivals, Zimbabwe who we managed to also defeat, but only by 20-24 in Madagascar last year.
Let me not underestimate Vermeulen’s contributions to the team. It was his efforts that got Namibia to the World Cup in the first place, and I’m sure it would have been a dream for him to participate in the competition.
However, in the short amount of time, performances under Davies have been encouraging. Earlier in the year, it was understandable when Namibia lost 30-10 to the Argentina Jaguars, a nation which is currently ranked 11th in the world. In the same month of June, we also lost 43-3 to Romania, who are five places above us in the world rankings.
In contrast, with the exception of Russia who are 25th, the opponents our team has played during this streak are both above us in the rankings, with Kenya and Zimbabwe 19th and 20th respectively. Namibia is 22nd.
It is also encouraging that we were able to perform so well, in that last game without Welwitschia captain, Jacques Burger. Stand-in captain Rohan Kitshoff performed exceptionally well.
Of course, the friendlies are now done and the pressure is on. Feelings can change by the time the World Cup rolls around.
Could Vermeulen have been the one to lead us to our first victory at the World Cup, we’ll never know. But as it stands, perhaps we don’t look that far off, and maybe we’re better off?