Mozambique aim to prove a point

2010-01-07 10:31

The Mambas of Mozambique are one of the dark horses at Angola 2010

after a solid showing in the qualifying series for the tournament.

This African Nations Cup will be Mozambique’s fourth appearance at

the finals, having also featured in the 1986, 1996 and 1998 editions of the

competition. In all three appearances, they failed to advance past the group

stage.

The southern Africans held their own against the likes of Tunisia

and Nigeria to finish in third place with seven points and stage a return to the

Nations Cup 11 years after their last appearance in Burkina Faso.

The Mambas have been together for a long time and the longevity of

the squad has continued to rub off on the perfect understanding and cohesion on

the pitch. The squad is also made up of determined, young players who are ready

to lay down their lives for the country’s cause.

Save for a handful of players including skipper Manuel Bucuane aka

‘Tico Tico’ and striker Dario Monteiro, Mozambique are largely an inexperienced

squad and short of exposure as most of the players ply their trade back home and

in South Africa, with just a few based in Europe.

South Africa-based Monteiro is the team’s leading scorer, netting

the all-important match winner at home to Tunisia on the final day of action in

the qualifiers. His experience spans stints in several clubs in Portugal,

Cyprus, UAE and South Africa. He and ’Tico Tico’ are the only survivors from

Burkina Faso ’98.

Another South Africa-based forward, Pelembe, holds the future of

the Mambas.

Pelembe is regarded as the brightest young talent in Mozambique

groomed to take the centre stage after the exit of Tico Tico and Monteiro.

He is often played on the right wing and uses his speed and

athleticism to great effect. He won two PSL championships with Supersport United

before he moved to big-spending Mamelodi Sundowns, also in the South African top

flight, in the off-season.

Mozambique are drawn against Egypt and Nigeria in Group C in

Benguela, but have insisted they will not be intimidated by the credentials of

their first round opponents.

“We’ll just have to compete and see what happens. Egypt are the

champions of Africa so that won’t be easy but if we believe in ourselves maybe

we can spring some surprises. Nigeria and Egypt would seem the obvious teams to

qualify but anything can happen,” said Tico Tico.


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