Preview: Angola v Portugal

Match 8 of Germany 2006 sees a former colony takes on its former overlord in Cologne on Sunday.

    The Black Antelopes stride out

    World Cup Finals debutants Angola will face its former colonial ruler Portugal in a historic match in the city of Cologne, ironically taking its name from the Latin colonia, meaning ‘colony’.

    In 50AD, the Romans established the small town of Cologne in what is now western Germany. 

    In 1483 the Portuguese established themselves on the west coast of Africa at the river Congo, and in 1575 formed a colony at Luanda based on slave trade. 

    Luanda would eventually become the largest city of the colony of Angola.

    After a tumultuous era, the Portuguese were eventually ousted in 1974 after a 14 year war for independence. 

    Decades later - civil unrest, guerrilla warfare and foreign involvement from the likes of South Africa, the Soviet Union, Cuba and the USA - little has improved.

    Angola is still without regular democratic process.

    The historically linked teams have played each other twice before, both times in Lisbon in 1989 and 2001, with the hosts winning comfortably on both occasions. 

    This match however will be a great spectacle in front of a worldwide audience with the Angolans, ranked 50 places behind their first up opponents, sure to be fired up to put on a good display.

    Fired up is something that the Angolans have little trouble being when playing the Portugese. In their last game in Lisbon they had four players sent off.

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    Portugal, managed by 2002 World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, went through qualifying undefeated and go into their fourth World Cup Finals with a reasonable first round draw.

    The Portuguese went all the way to the Euro 2004 final on home soil where they were defeated by World Cup non-qualifiers Greece, and will be looking to go one better in this tournament.

    Scolari is blessed with a talented midfield with youngsters Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Viana, and Tiago mixed with the more experienced Deco, Costinha and Luis Figo.

    The evergreen Figo who now plays club football at Inter Milan was under no illusions about the dangers of complacency in his team’s opening match.  "Physically they're strong and as an African team we have to show them respect. It's only common sense," Figo said.

    Angola are coached by Luis de Oliveira Goncalves, who has the nickname of 'The Professor' in Angolan football circles due to his wonder working ways in taking the south west African nation to the World Cup Finals.  

    'The Professor' holds court

    Goncalves will be relying on injury plagued Benfica striker Pedro Mantorras to spearhead his side’s assault on the Cup along with fellow forward Akwa who most recently played club football in Qatar, but is currently without a club.

    With national hero status, Akwa is both team captain and his country’s all-time leading goal scorer.

    Angolan striker Love highlighted the importance of the match to the 'Black Antelopes' as they make their debut in Cologne.

    "We're in a tough group but we'll be doing the best we can to show the world we can play football," said Love.

    "Sunday is a special game for us. It's the first time in the World Cup, made all the more special with the great feeling and history between us and Portugal.

    "There's great excitement back home, the whole country will be watching this game."

    In the opening match of Japan/Korea 2002, France were defeated 1-0 at the hands of former African colony Senegal.  Portugal will need to be wary that the same does not happen to them this time around.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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