Angola coach Goncalves urges players to relish Nigeria clash at Cup of Nations

Angola boss Pedro Gonçalves called on his players and staff on Thursday to embrace the opportunity of a career when they take on Nigeria for a place in the semi-finals at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Angola have never appeared in the last four in the 66-year history of the competition while a side from Nigeria has reached the semis in seven of their nine apperances since 2000.

"Nigeria are one of African football's most powerful teams," said Gonçalves on the eve of the clash at the Stade Félix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan.

"They have players who play in the big nations of football. They really are a power team.

"But for all that, we have pride, responsibility and motivation for the match. It's the opportunity of a career because we have shown we have the skills to compete."

Angola claimed Group D to advance to the last-16 where they overpowered Namibia 3-0 despite playing for 75 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of goalkeeper Neblu for a professional foul.


"All the players have got this far," added Gonçalves. "We are not afraid. We are proud and during the game we will look at creating opportunities for ourselves."

On paper, the Angolans go into the tie as underdogs. But the Nigeria boss José Peseiro refused to attach the tag of favourites to his team.

"Either team can win," said Peseiro. "It's 50-50. You start at 0-0 and you go from there. It will be a tough match and we need to play with commitment and sacrifice.

"Angola don't have lots of big names but they are a good team."


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