Angola face the biggest game in their history when they take on Ghana in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final, coach Manuel Jose declared
The 2010 hosts reached the last eight in Ghana two years ago, and also made it to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, but Sunday’s showdown at Luanda’s 11 November stadium is on a higher plane, according to the Portuguese manager.
“In Ghana we reached the same position, but tomorrow is different, we’re playing in front of our home fans, and we have a good chance of reaching the semi-finals.”
Jose took over a deflated Angola side last year after a trophy-filled spell at Egyptian giants Al-Ahly.
Discussing the two jobs at a press conference at the team’s hotel on Saturday he joked: “At Al-Ahly we had 40 million fans, in Angola only 14 million…
“It’s impossible to compare, but I would say I have more pressure on me as national coach than I did in Egypt.”
He said his priority when he took the Angolan job was to build a team that could do itself justice on home soil at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.
“When I began I had one important problem to solve. The last four games before I became coach Angola lost three and drew one and let in seven goals and didn’t score one.
“I knew that it was normal with Angola playing at home all the people wanted a team that had the ability to reach the final here in 2010. To get to the final you have to win matches, must play good football – that was my priority.
“And that’s what we have done, we’ve built a very solid and competitive team that plays nice football.”
While much of Ghana’s squad is based in Europe Angola’s players are culled either from local clubs or generally second tier sides in Europe, prompting Jose to comment: “We don’t have famous players, our players are with medium not top teams, except Flavio and Gilberto.
“So we have had to compensate by having a highly organised side.
“With our high motivation we can deal with stars on other teams, and tomorrow with that attitude I hope we can reach the semi-final.”
Captain Kali, who is clubless, expressed optimism that key players Ded and Flavio had overcome their fitness concerns and would play a part in Sunday’s match.
The defender added: “Ghana are a great footballing country, we know it will be very very hard. We will have to at the top of our game, both mentally and physically, to beat them
“I’m proud of my country, of what we have achieved so far, and we want to do more.
“Playing at home we are almost obliged to win. If we get through the quarter-final, anything can happen.
“Ghana are a feature on the world football map, Angola want to climb higher to be the same.”