Since making their international debut against Cuba in 1997, the highlight of Angolan football was undoubtedly the country's qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Qualification was the culmination of steady progress which had seen the Palancas Negras record their highest ever FIFA ranking of 45 in 2002.
Angola qualified for the global showpiece ahead of the likes of Nigeria and Algeria, and although they failed to win a single match in Germany, they did not disgrace themselves. They lost once and managed two draws in a group containing Portugal, Mexico and Iran.
As hosts of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, Angola were involved in arguably one of the most dramatic matches ever witnessed at an AFCON tournament. Palancas Negras led Mali 4-0 with 11 minutes to play in their opening group tie, but contrived to draw the match 4-4. The result left Angolan coach Manuel Jose suitably stunned and deflated.
"This draw tasted like a defeat to me, this is one of the most bitter pills I've ever had to swallow in all the matches of my long career," José said.
Angola would go on to beat Malawi and draw with Algeria to progress to the quarter-finals, where they lost to eventual losing finalists Ghana.
PREVIOUS AFCON INVOLVEMENTS:
Angola took part in their first African Cup of Nations in 1996. They were grouped with hosts and eventual winners South Africa and past champions Egypt and Cameroon.
Palancas Negras lost to both Egypt and South Africa before salvaging some pride with a 3-3 draw against Cameroon.
Two years later Angola again failed to progress past the group stages after draws against South Africa and Namibia and a 5-2 mauling by Côte d'Ivoire.
Their first Africa Cup of Nations win came in 2006 against Togo courtesy of goals by striker Flávio and Maurito.
But it was in 2008 that they produced arguably their best performance at an AFCON tournament by beating Senegal 3-1 in their final group match to reach the quarter-finals, where they lost to eventual winners Egypt.
Angola also boast three COSAFA Cup titles having won the competition in 1999, 2001 and 2004.
Angola are in Group B, where they will fight it out with Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire and Sudan for a place in the knockout stages. The Angolans will be based in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea.
Angola named Nando Rafael in their final African Nations Cup squad, but FIFA have not yet ruled on the player's eligibility. The 28-year-old has played for Germany at Under-21 level and needs official clearance to switch national allegiance. FIFA claim they are yet to receive an application for the move, putting Rafael's participation in doubt.
Coach Lito Vidigal also included experienced defender Kali and strikers Flavio and Love in his squad. The trio have been to the last three finals with Angola.
ONE TO WATCH:
Striker Mateus Alberto Contreiras Goncalves (aka Manucho) scored the opening goal in Angola's first match at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations against South Africa in Ghana, and grabbed a further two goals in the 3-1 win over Senegal.
Manucho then scored Angola's only goal in a 2-1 loss to Egypt. Although the result ended Angola's involvement at the tournament, the forward's 25-yard strike was widely regarded as "the goal of the tournament". Manucho's exploits in Ghana won him a place in the tournament's "Best XI" team.
After leaving Benfica de Luanda in the Angolan league in 2007 the striker secured a move to English Premier League champions Manchester United on a three-year contract.
Manucho had been on a three-week trial with the Red Devils club prior to the deal and managed to impress manager Sir Alex Ferguson enough to earn himself a permanant contract.
But the forward found it difficult to make the first team and agreed to join Hull City on loan in January 2009 until the end of the 2008-09 season.
On 4 March 2009, he celebrated his first Premier League goal, netting a last-minute winner for Hull in a 1-0 away victory against Fulham.
His loan spell with Hull ended and Sir Alex Ferguson deemed the striker surplus to requirements at Old Trafford. He then joined Real Valladolid in July 2009 on a five-year contract.
Manucho is currently on loan at Manisaspor.
FIFA Rank: 83
Coach: Lito Vidigal
Captain: Carlos Alonso Kali
Nickname: Palancas Negras
Previous AFCON finish: Quarter-finals in 2008
Goalkeepers: Carlos, Hugo, Wilson.
Defenders: Amaro, Dani Massunguna, Kali, Marco Airosa, Mingo Bille, Zuela.
Midfielders: Andre Makanga, Dede, Gilberto, Mabina, Miguel, Osorio, Xara.
Strikers: Djalma, Flavio, Jose Pierre Vunguidica, Love, Manucho, Mateus Galiano, Nando Rafael.