Hosts hoping home advantage can help them spring a surprise
Last Updated: 08/01/10 10:04am
Manuel Jose - key to Angola's hopes
The Black Antelopes will be looking to give a good account of themselves as the host nation for the 27th African Cup of Nations.
The Angolans may have disappointed their supporters by failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but they will have the perfect opportunity to make amends by putting in a strong run in this year's African showpiece.
Years of civil war and internecine strife meant Angola first entered the competitive realm in the 1980s. Despite numerous attempts to qualify for major tournaments, the Black Antelopes only burst onto the scene in the 1990s and qualified for the 1996 and 1998 AFCONs.
The upward curve continued and the southern Africans qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany where they gave a good account of themselves. As the host nation of the 2010 edition of the Cup of Nations, Angola secured automatic qualification to the tournament.
One to watch: Manucho
Angola's key player in this year's AFCON must surely be 26-year-old striker Mateus Alberto Contreiras Gonçalves, or Manucho as he is otherwise known.
The 6' 2" target-man left English giants Manchester United to sign for Spanish outfit Real Valladolid on a five-year contract in the summer and in a short space of time he has already made more first-team appearances for the Spanish side than he did during his entire spell with the Red Devils.
The Angolan skipper is the most recognised name in the squad and will certainly demand respect from his team-mates and peers after being named in the AFCON 2008 "Best XI" and scoring arguably the best goal of the tournament.
Coach: Manuel Jose
Manuel Jose is a legend on the African continent having led Egyptian giants Al-Ahly to unparalleled success.
His achievements with the Egyptian giants makes for a lengthy list and his most recent accolades include being named Portuguese coach of the year for 2009, while also being awarded the Medal of Sport of First Class for his contributions to Ahly and Egyptian Football by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.