Angola say fear is not a factor

Hosts leave no room for doubt ahead of vital match against Group A leaders Malawi.


    Kali celebrates in the opening match before Mali fought back for a 4-4 draw [AFP]
    Angola captain Kali has told any player who doesn't have the stomach for their vital Africa Cup of Nations tie against Malawi to stay at home.

    The Black Antelopes go into the game knowing that defeat would leave them in danger of becoming only the fourth host nation in 53 years not to make the quarter-finals.

    And with their character in question after going 4-0 up against Mali only to concede four goals in 15 minutes at the end of the match, Kali said there was no place for timidity in Thursday's match against the surprise Group A leaders.

    "Whoever is afraid of failing can't walk onto the pitch tomorrow," Kali said at the team hotel in Luanda on Wednesday.

    "In our job, if you are afraid it is better that you stay at home because you are in the wrong place at the wrong time."

    Previous record

    Only three teams have failed to progress past the group stage in 26 previous editions of the tournament – Ethiopia in 1976, Cote d'Ivoire in 1984 and Tunisia in 1994.

    And while Angola's point against Mali means they can still qualify even if they don't win on Wednesday, defeat could leave them needing to beat Algeria in their last match while hoping Mali lose theirs.

    Keeping cool: Manuel Jose [Paul Rhys]
    Coach Manuel Jose said he was confident his team weren't suffering despite throwing away what should have been an emphatic opening win.

    The celebrations of 50,000 Angolans at the November 11 stadium drained away into disbelief after goalkeeper Fernandes Carlos' error in the 79th minute sparked a collapse that handed Mali the draw.

    And Jose said his side owed those fans a good result – even if it meant discarding their passing game.

    "A team that plays for 80 minutes of that quality can't fail, they shouldn't feel fragile because of what happened in the last minutes" he said.

    "I think tomorrow we will have a good response. They will go to the end of the world for Angola.

    "If we can't play beautiful football then we will be direct and practical.

    "I don't see the draw against Mali as a negative result because Mali were favourites. Think of what we have done – we have the chance to qualify."


    Algeria get that empty feeling
    By Paul Rhys
    Angola fan Pedro Dchindandi, 17, who was at the opening match, said home fans needed to be more supportive of the team.

    "Most of the people are disappointed because they don't understand how football is," he said.

    "Our mums, for example – they are only wanting goals all the time. They don't know how hard it is to score."

    Group D kicks off on Wednesday with Cameroon taking on Gabon and Zambia playing Tunisia in Lubango.

    The second round of Group A matches on Thursday sees Mali and Algeria take to the field at 16.00 GMT before Angola host Malawi at 18.30.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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