27 January 2013

Cape Verde/Angola: First-Timers Cape Verde Celebrate Historic Soccer Win

Photo: Luigi Bennett/Backpagepix
Fernando Varela of Cape Verde scores with a header, helping his team make history by qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals in their first Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Cape Verde scored two late goals to seal a historic passage into the quarter-finals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations with a 2-1 victory over Angola in Port Elizabeth on Sunday night.

On an evening of see-saw pool play when at one stage or another all four of the teams in the pool were going through to the Last 8, Cape Verde eventually joined hosts South Africa in the knockout rounds. Angola and Morocco head home early.

The islanders' qualification was secured only in injury time in their match, and after they netted twice in the final 10 minutes of the game to turn the fixture on its head.

An own goal from skipper Nando gifted Angola a halftime lead, but Fernando Varela bundled home an equaliser, before Heldon Nhuck smashed home the winner to give the Blue Sharks a place in the quarter-finals in their first-ever visit to the continental showpiece.

Angola were to a large extent architects of their own downfall.

Goalkeeper Lama had a hand in both Cape Verde goals with poor glove-work, while his teammates also failed to fire up front. Manucho headed just wide on 13 minutes when he might have done better, but they did take the lead on 33 minutes.

Amaro was excellent on the left-hand side all match and it was his cross towards Mateus in the box that was inadvertently turned by Nando into his own net.

Cape Verde might have been level almost immediately when Júlio Tavares headed wide, but got in the way of teammate Fernando Varela, who would surely have scored.

Angola were then forced to clear off the line twice in a matter of seconds. First Lama's punched clearance hit one of his defenders and deflected back towards goal. That was cleared to Tavares, who managed to head goalwards, but that effort too was hacked to safety.

The episode should have served as a massive warning to Palancas Negras, but one they seemingly failed to heed. Another corner was spilled by Lama and again hit his own defender and bounced towards goal. Manucho Dinis had the chance to hack clear on the line, but could only turn the ball into the path of Fernando Varela, who headed home.

Cape Verde knew that one more goal would put them into the quarter-finals and it came in the first minute of injury-time. Lama was again culpable as he could only parry a shot into the path of Heldon, who blasted the ball home to create history.

There were joyous scenes at the end of the match. Coach Lucio Antunes did a lap of honour with the Cape Verde flag, the players beside themselves with joy. It is a remarkable achievement for them and a night that will live with these players for the rest of their lives.

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