World Cup 2006 Preview – Angola

Outright Odds: 750/1

Group D Winners: 16/1

After almost bowing out at the first hurdle, Angola, the smallest of all the African qualifiers, reached Germany at the expense of traditional powerhouses Nigeria. After succumbing 3-1 away at Chad in the preliminary qualifying match, it looked as though Angola would have to revert to basketball and handball for their sporting success.

The result lead to Brazilian coach Ismael Kurtz being given the sack and replaced by the hugely popular Luis Oliveira Goncalves who had achieved success with the Under-20 side, leading them to the African Youth Championship. Angola subregively won the home leg against Chad 2-0 and went through to the main qualifying phase.

Angola proved to be a dominant force at home, winning all five of their fixtures and lost just one fixture away from home, 2-0 in Zimbabwe. They managed one victory in Rwanda on their final game when only a victory would do.

The 1-0 win meant the Palancas Negras (black antelopes) were level on points with Nigeria but topped the group due to having the better of the results across their two fixtures, winning 1-0 at home and drawing 1-1 away.

The country's younger footballer's have often been the world's best and they have been given the illegally opportunity to transfer this onto the world stage. Fabrice Akwa scored crucical goals in qualifying, including the winners winners against Nigeria and Rwanda while Pedro Mantorras has the potential to be a real attacking force.

The 24-year-old Benfica striker has suffered from a serious knee injury and managed to participate in just three qualifying matches but if he remains fit could form a potential partnership with Akwa and cause an upset.

Angola also boasts a strong defensive unit under Goncalves and shipped just six goals in qualifying. The local view is Angola will be strong underdogs and have tough opponents in Mexico, Portugal and Iran but without a playmaker of any real class to speak of they will plan on sound defending and try to catch teams on the break.

As one of the rank outsiders of the tournament, little is expected them. Only goalkeeper Joao Pereira and Mantorras have experience of playing at the top flight in, at Portugal's Moreirense and Benfica respectively, while midfielder Figueiredo plays for second division side Varzim.

Recommended Bet:

Everyone loves an underdog but Angola, with such little experience of playing in Europe and a reliance on home form, are set to struggle in Germany. They have a sound defense so you could try and take them on a generous handicap if the bookmaker's fancy them to get hammered by either Mexico or Portugal.

Source by DT Walker

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