|Marco Abreu||Defender||Portimonense (Portugal)|
|Marco Airosa||Defender||FC Barreirense (Portugal)|
|Luis Delgado||Defender||Petro Atletico|
|Kali||Defender||FC Barreirense (Portugal)|
|Lebo Lebo||Defender||Petro Atletico|
|Rui Manuel Marques||Defender||Hull City (England)|
|Andre||Midfielder||Kuwait SC (Kuwait)|
|Edson Nobre||Midfielder||Pacos Ferreira (Portugal)|
|Ze Kalanga||Midfielder||Petro Atletico|
|Atonio Mendoca||Midfielder||Varzim (Portugal)|
|Fabrice 'Akwa' Maceio||Forward||unattached|
|Andre Titi Buengo||Forward||Clermont Foot (France)|
|Flavio Amado||Forward||Al Ahli (Egypt)|
|Pedro Mantorras||Forward||Benfica (Portugal)|
|Mateus||Forward||Gil Vicente (Portugal)|
|Head Coach:||Luis Oliveira Goncalves|
Style of play: Luis Oliveira Goncalves routinely switches between a traditional 4-4-2 when Angola is attacking and more defensive 4-5-1 formation when it doesn't have the ball. In the later scheme, they keep captain Fabrice (Akwa) Maceio as the lone striker to capitalize on his speed on the counter-attack and drop his striker partner, either Pedro Mantorras or Flavio Amado, into the midfield. Akwa is the fulcrum of the attack and Angola's major source of goals. He relies mostly on service of Gilberto, but an injury ruled the left winger out of the tournament. In his absence, expect left fullback Jamba to press forward down the side of the field and get the ball to Akwa.
Probable starting formation (4-4-2): (GK) Joao Ricardo - (D) Luis Delgado, Rui Manuel Marques, Jamba, Kali - (M) Atonio Mendoca, Paulo Figueiredo, Edson Nobre, Ze Kalanga - (F) Pedro Mantorras, Fabrice ( Akwa) Maceio.
Goalkeeping - Joao Ricardo isn't flashy, but he is a very reliable goalkeeper who serves as the last line of defence behind Angola's back four. Pereira's stats during the qualifying round are impressive: 10 games played, six victories, one loss, six shutouts and only six goals against.
Momentum - Angola competed in the African Nations Cup earlier this year and although it failed to advance beyond the first round, it did finish a respectable third in its group and defeated fellow World Cup debutantes Togo. Angola also beat out Nigeria, one of Africa's perennial soccer powers, in its group to qualify for the World Cup, giving the nation plenty of confidence as it heads to Germany.
No pressure - Nobody expects Angola to win a game, let alone advance out of Group D. All eyes will be on front-runners Portugal and Mexico while Angola can simply play its game free of pressure and expectations. This worked to its advantage in the African qualifiers, when everybody expected Nigeria to advance but Angola ended up winning the group.
Inexperience/quality - Consider the following: a) this is Angola's first trip to the World Cup; b) the majority of its players have played only a handful of international games; c) even fewer play in Europe and most of those who do see little first-team action; d) all the other teams in Group D have players who are starters for their teams in Europe. Bottom line: Angola lacks quality and experienced players.
Goal-scoring - Angola managed only 15 goals in 12 qualifying games. It lacked scoring depth as a third of its goals came from captain Akwa. Benfica striker Pedro Mantorras can also score, but he's been troubled by injury problems the last two years and there are serious questions being asked about his fitness. Shutting down Angola's attack shouldn't be too hard for opposing teams.
Tough draw - On top of everything else, Angola was placed in a very tough group with three teams that have World Cup experience. Mexico has competed in 12 World Cups, Portugal will be playing in its second straight tournament and boasts a team with world-class players and Iran, having participated in two World Cups, is considered one of the best teams from Asia.
Players to watch:
Pedro Mantorras - The 23-year-old is absolutely vital to Angola's chances of moving on. An accomplished forward with Portuguese club Benfica, Mantorras boasts speed, strength and deadly finishing. Injury problems have plagued his career for the past two years, but now he's ready to prove himself to the rest of the world.
Fabrice (Akwa) Maceio - The Angolan captain led the team in scoring during qualifying with five goals, including a late winner in their final game against Rwanda that clinched qualification. Akwa is much more than his country's all-time leading scorer (30 goals in 68 games) - he's the inspirational leader that the other players always look to for guidance on the field.
Joao Ricardo - Ricardo was a big reason why Angola qualified for the World Cup. He started all 10 of Angola's games in the final round of qualifying and conceded a mere six goals and recorded six shutouts. A solid goalkeeper who will have be at the top of his game in Germany.
Key injuries/squad omissions: Injuries forced coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves to make a few changes to the team that competed at the African Nations Cup in January. Most notably, left winger Gilberto was left out because of an Achilles tendon injury - a big blow for the team as he serves as the main supply line of passes to the strikers. Also missing out due to a knee injury is striker Maurito. Defender Jacinto was not picked due to a lack of form. Drafted into the team as replacements were forward Mateus, and defenders Marco Airosa and Rui Manuel Marques. Third string goalkeeper Mario, who has yet to play for Angola, was selected over Goliath. Goncalves made an attempt to pick former Portuguese junior internationals Pedro Emanuel and Chainho but FIFA rejected their bid to change their eligibility. Emanuel would have helped bolster Angola's weak defence.
Prognosis: World Cup qualification was a massive achievement for the southwestern African nation and former Portuguese colony - Angola had always stumbled at the final round of African qualifying for the World Cup. Success in the African Cup of Nations has also been very hard to come by - Angola has only qualified three times (1996, 1998 and 2006), bowing out in the first round every time. Angola is the second-lowest ranked country in the tournament (no. 57 in the FIFA world rankings). Portugal, Mexico and Iran are all in the top 25 and have all appeared at the World Cup before, while Angola lacks experience and overall quality. It's hard to see where the goals are going to come from (it only has two strikers of acceptable quality) and the team will be badly exposed in this difficult group. Angola will finish fourth in Group D - anything else would have to be considered a major miracle.
Road to the World Cup
Current FIFA Ranking: #57
1st round matches:
June 11 vs. Portugal in Cologne
June 16 vs. Mexico in Hanover
June 21 vs. Iran in Leipzig
2006 qualification route: Angola defeated Chad in a two-game preliminary
playoff and then finished in first place (21 points) in Africa's Group 4 ahead
of Nigeria (21 points).
Qualifying record: 12 games played, 7 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses
Goals for: 15 Goals against: 9
Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Fabrice 'Akwa' Maceio (5)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
Oct. 12, 2003 - Chad 3, Angola 1
Nov. 16, 2003 - Angola 2, Chad 0
June 5, 2004 - Algeria 0, Angola 0
June 20, 2004 - Angola 1, Nigeria 0
July 3, 2004 - Gabon 2, Angola 2
Sept. 5, 2004 - Angola 1, Rwanda 0
Oct.10, 2004 - Angola 1, Zimbabwe 0
March 27, 2005 - Zimbabwe 2, Angola 0
June 5, 2005 - Angola 2, Algeria 1
June 18, 2005 - Nigeria 1, Angola 1
Sept. 4, 2005 - Angola 3, Gabon 0
Oct. 8, 2005 - Rwanda 0, Angola 1
World Cup History
FIFA member since: 1980
Team nickname: Palancas Negras (Black Antelopes)
All-time caps leader: Fabrice Maceio (68)
All-time leading scorer: Fabrice Maceio (30)
Number of Previous World Cup Appearances: none
World Cup History:
1930 to 1982 - Did not enter
1986 to 2002 - Did not qualify
Hosted the World Cup: Never
Under-20 African Champions: 2001
Qualified for African Nations Cup: 1996, 1998, 2006
Jose Aguas: Legendary player with Portuguese club Benfica from 1950-63. Aguas was captain of Benfica when the club won the European Cup (today's Champions League) in 1961 and 1962. Led Benfica to five Portuguese league titles and was the league top scorer on five occasions.
Fernando Peyroteo: One of the first African stars to make it big in the Portuguese league, Peyroteo was a key winger for Sporting Lisbon in the 1930s. Played 20 games for Portugal's national team from 1938-49, scoring 13 goals.