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Football | Afcon

Cape Verde © Backpagepix

Cape Verde seek first win, last-8 place

Fairy-tale islanders Cape Verde will gun for their first win at the Africa Cup of Nations when they face Angola in a decisive Group A tie on Sunday.

Cape Verde have been best known as the team who eliminated mighty Cameroon from this year's tournament, but they have shown after two draws in South Africa that they deserve to be taken more seriously.

They cancelled out hosts South Africa in the opening match of the competition before a sell-out crowd at Soccer City in Soweto.

And then they were coasting to their first win of the tournament on Wednesday before Morocco pegged them back with a second-half equaliser.

Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes has lauded his debutants, while fixing his sights on a place in the knockout stage as they are tied with Morocco on two points in second place in Group A.

South Africa have four points and Angola just one.

"We are getting better, now we have to get the points to try and stay in the top two and get to the quarterfinals," declared Antunes, a 46-year-old air traffic controller, who is on a three-year sabbatical.

"Regarding the next stage, our target is to improve the team. We will do our best to grow day by day."

Skipper and defender Nando said they will back themselves to go past the first round.

"For us, just to be here is an achievement. We're off to a good start and we now want to finish well.

"Finishing well means going to the quarterfinals, the next stage," said the widely-travelled 34-year-old defender, who plays in the French lower league.

Lille striker Ryan Mendes and Platini have caught the eye as the west African islanders have brought a whiff of fresh air to the competition.

Mendes, 22, may have yet to establish himself at his top-flight French club, but he has shone at his first Africa Cup, pulling the strings for the Blue Sharks from a deep-lying midfield role and creating Platini's well-taken goal against Morocco.

It was not surprising he was picked as the man of the match in the 1-1 draw with the Moroccan Atlas Lions.

Platini, who scooped the man of the match award for a top-class display in the opening match against the hosts, was a late replacement in the squad for injured Odair Fortes.

The Palancas Negras (Black Antelopes) of Angola are fighting with their backs to the wall after they fell 2-0 to an inspired South Africa on Wednesday in Durban.

However, the 2010 Cup of Nations hosts could still progress to the knockout stage with a win over a fellow Portuguese-speaking country.

Skipper Manucho has struggled to impress, but no one could question the huge talent of this former Manchester United striker, who has rediscovered his scoring touch with Spanish La Liga club Real Valladolid this season.


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