Antelopes ready to take next step

Angola are on the verge of qualifying for their very first African Cup quarters.

    Angola only need a draw against Tunisia to go through to the Cup quarters for the first time [GALLO/GETTY]

    Making their fourth Nations Cup appearance this time around, Angola collected a solitary point in 1996 and two in 1998 before being pipped on goal difference for a last-eight spot by the Democratic Republic of Congo two years ago in Egypt.
     
    If the Antelopes continue where they left off when shocking Senegal 3-1 last Sunday, a deserved quarter-final spot awaits, which would confirm that qualification for the 2006 World Cup ahead of fancied Nigeria was no fluke.
     
    "We are going to play our game and fight for victory in every game, regardless of the opponents."

    Luis Oliveria Goncalves,
    Angola manager

    Luis Oliveria Goncalves, Angola manager, said his team will avoid the temptation to play for a draw against Tunisia on Thursday, where a point apiece will send both through to the knockout stage.
     
    "We're going for a win and try to guarantee our place without depending on other teams," the Portuguese manager said.
     
    "We are going to play our game and fight for victory in every game, regardless of the opponents."
     
    One of the key factors in Angola's rise has been consistency, with Goncalves in charge since late 2003 and an effective scouting system that identifies lower-league players born in Europe of Angolan parents.
     
    Tunisia's strike force
     
    No player in the 23-strong squad at this tournament comes from a big-name club, but this appears set to change with only a work permit standing between striker Manucho and a three-year contract at English Premier League giants Manchester United.
     
    It is not difficult to see why United manager Sir Alex Ferguson took an instant liking for the physically intimidating Angolan as he has scored thrice in two outings, including the header and shot that turned the tide against Senegal.
     
    Tunisia, former champions, have been no less impressive than Angola, surviving a Senegalese pounding to snatch a 2-2 draw, and then overpowering South Africa in a 3-1 victory.
     
    Roger Lemerre, Tunisia coach, may call on highly-rated teenage striker Amine Chermiti for the first time, with the tall forward from reigning African club champions Etoile Sahel already attracting the attention of French and Swiss clubs.
     
    Add Brazil-born Francileudo dos Santos, Issam Jemaa and Yassine Chikhaoui and Lemerre, the only coach to win the European Championship and African Nations Cup, is spoilt for attacking options.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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