Wednesday, May 10, 2006

World Cup Spotlight: Angola

This southwest African country is, to my mind, a clean slate save for vague and anxious impressions of civil strife and warfare. So good on the Black Impalas, one of a trio of World Cup debut squads hailing from Africa, for giving us all a more optimistic image of their long-troubled country. Angola's qualification was a surprise--and they knocked out a team I like a lot, Nigeria--but I'm prepared to forgive and forget and see what these fellows have to offer. Any chance they'll make it out of Group D? Well, Portugal's showing in 2002 was poor--they finished at the bottom of their group--and while Mexico and Iran are both bringing strong squads, facing them is hardly the equivalent of having to get past powerhouses like, say, Brazil or Germany. The fact that Angola was once a Portugese territory may also put a fire in their belly when they play their first match on June 11 against their former colonizers .

If you read Portugese, or just get a kick out of running pages through translation engines, check out their official site. And when they take to the pitch in a month, keep an eye out for Benfica striker Mantorras (Pedro Manuel Torres) and captain Fabrice Akwa. No one seems to know quite what to expect from this squad, which is just the way I like it.

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