Tag: Angola

Angola 2010: The African Cup of Nations

Mark Murphy is our man for the African Cup of Nations, which begins this month in Angola. Mark takes us through the runners and riders for the second most important footbll competition that will be played in Africa this year.

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Mexican Waves

Mexico 1-2 Portugal / Angola 1-1 Iran Well, they made their fans sweat. I’ll say that much for them. Mexico came within an inch of getting themselves knocked out, in spite of being seeded and, apparently, the fourth best team in the world (before you start complaining, this is FIFA’s view, and not mine). They didn’t even manage this in a “Group Of Death”. They managed to go to the wire against Angola. Those giants of international football. Fortunately, though, Angola threw away a win against Iran thanks to some lame finishing. I’m thoroughly enjoying Mexico’s stay at the World Cup, because, in an era when everything else often appears to be becoming more and more homogenized, Mexico are inscrutably, indefatigably, defiantly mad. Well, they’re inscrutably, indefatigably, defiantly Mexican. But it’s the same difference. This is, after all, the country that gave the world tequila, chili, peyote and the sombrero. Why should we expect anything less? What is particularly great about Mexico as that they are a good team, but still an unknown quantity. Almost all of their players are domestically based, and they can play, but are singular in the way that they do it. Against Iran, they were solid, then momentarily dire, and then outstanding. Against Angola, they couldn’t for all their attacking flair, break down a team of determined under-dogs. This afternoon, they showed their best...

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Still In The Running

Angola 0-0 Mexico A recurrent theme of this World Cup has been this: smaller countries going into matches against “bigger” opposition, getting eleven men behind the ball, and playing for the goal-less draw. On the whole, it hasn’t worked. Paraguay conceded a late goal against Sweden, as did Poland against Germany Trinidad managed it against Sweden, but the two late goals that they conceded against England have left them requiring a mountain to climb to get through. I’m glad that this phenomenon has not really worked. It has spoilt matches that should have been far more entertaining, but it’s nice to know that, even now, football matches are still being won by the teams that score the most goals, rather than the team that concedes the least, if you catch my drift. It may be easier to play ultra-defensively, but it still doesn’t seem to be quite easy enough yet. You’ll forgive me, though, if I cast aside my irritation at this concept when it comes to Angola, though. They were excellent against Portugal, and in this match, though they barely had a shot on target themselves, what alternative did they have? They’ve cobbled a team together from wherever they could find anyone. Their goalkeeper, Joao Ricardo, isn’t even signed to a club. He’s spent the last year reportedly training on his own. I can’t see this still being...

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Portuguese Men Of War

Angola 0-1 Portugal One can only presume that, tomorrow morning, the Portuguese press will be howling, gnashing their teeth and writing off their team’s chances going much further than the second round of the tournament. Because they would do if Portugal were England. Of course, there were one or two differences. For one thing, Angola are a way inferior team to Paraguay. For another, Angola created chances that could have got them back into the game. In other words, Portugal, who had gubbed their former colony 6-0 and 5-1 in recent friendlies, were poor. It didn’t look as if it was going to that way at all. Judging from the first five minutes, Portugal looked like they were going to run up a cricket score. Straight from the kick-off, Pauleta raced through and shot across the face of goal when, frankly, he should have scored. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, considering that they’d only been playing for barely ten seconds. There was no repeat of this barely four minutes later. Figo was the provider, and the finish from Pauleta was perfunctory. The scoreboard manufacturers must have been concerned that they might not have put enough space on the display for the possible score. But then, something weird happened – Portugal failed to capitalise on their great start, and Angola began, slowly, and almost seemingly in spite...

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