Namibia are the lowest ranked team at the World Cup, and were always going to face an uphill battle in a tough pool searching for their first win, but financial turmoil has made the task even more daunting.
Namibia has qualified for every World Cup since 1999, but has lost all 11 matches and is perhaps remembered most for a 142-0 hammering by Australia in 2003, when the Namibians let in a World Cup-record 22 tries and went down by the biggest margin in the history of the event.
The squad retains 13 members from the 2007 campaign, where they hinted at some improvement with a battling 32-17 loss to Ireland, but the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) had to rely on extra money from its national government and a team sponsor to make the trip to New Zealand and be able to pay its players.
The president of the union also resigned days before the announcement of the final 30-man World Cup squad, reportedly protesting delays in funding.
Namibia offers a stark contrast to the teams from top rugby countries like New Zealand, Australia, England and France, which have every possible resource to prepare.
Without the late cash bailout, the NRU said it would not have been able to meet medical and insurance costs for its players, or give them their daily allowances.
The financial turmoil was a major distraction for the squad of mostly semi-professional players who make little money from their clubs.
"The players are very relieved and we appreciate the government's assistance," captain Jacques Burger, one of the few professionals in the squad, said. "The money issue was always at the back of our minds, but now it has been cleared and we can focus on the job at hand."
After an average showing at the second-tier IRB Nations Cup this year, Namibia also faces one of the hardest groups in New Zealand, with defending champion South Africa, Wales, Samoa and Fiji waiting in Group D. The tough opposition suggests the Namibians are unlikely to break their World Cup drought.
Namibia has perhaps one international-class player: skipper and flank Burger, who plays for Saracens in England and is a survivor of France 2007.
The 28-year-old helped Saracens to the English Premiership title this season, but it is unlikely that he will be able to inspire Namibia to an elusive first World Cup win on his own.
Fellow loose forwards Jacques Nieuwenhuis of France's Stade Aurillac and Rohan Kitshoff of Western Province will back him up, as will prop Marius Visser and fullback Danie Dames, who play for provincial teams in South Africa.
But the vast majority of the group turn out for semi-professional clubs -in Namibia and South Africa - and will face a huge step up in standard.
With all the challenges that come with a lowly rugby nation, coach Johan Diergaardt still believes his 2011 group has a chance of a breakthrough win at the World Cup. It's the single goal for Namibia.
"It's a well-balanced team with a good mixture of youth and experience," Diergaardt said. "We don't have a great World Cup record, but I think it will be shortsighted to compare previous World Cups with this one.
"In the past we only had up to four months to prepare, but this time we had two years to prepare. We have played in the Vodacom Cup (in South Africa) and IRB Nations Cup competitions and I believe we will bear the fruits of our preparation," added the Namibian coach.
Namibia opens against the free-running Fiji in a major step-up after they failed to impress at the 2011 Nations Cup - a tournament they won in 2010. The Namibians lost to Romania and Georgia this year, and only narrowly beat Portugal, to finish fourth out of six second-tier international teams.
The problem of a lack of regular exposure to quality opposition could be telling, with a 52-36 win over unfashionable South African team the Griffons in its final warm-up match before the World Cup unlikely to be enough to prepare for the Fijians and Samoans - let alone Wales and South Africa.
"One must remember that the other teams are all professional, but I believe we have a great chance to be competitive," said Diergaardt, adding optimistically, "and I'm looking forward to our first win."
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