Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Angola Prepares Glitzy Show For Nations Cup Draw

Angola prepare glitzy show for Nations Cup draw

by Louise Redvers Louise Redvers
Tue Nov 17, 8:43 pm ET

LUANDA (AFP) – Pop stars, politicians and a president are among those expected to attend the African Nations Cup draw being staged by tournament host Angola here on Friday.

The event, featuring Congolese artist Papa Wemba and other Angolan singers, is being held at a shiny new glass-and-steel convention centre in the purpose-built southern suburb of Talatona.

African Football Confedation (CAF) president Issa Hayatou and members of his executive committee can also expect a rare public appearance from President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, ruler of this oil-rich country for 30 years.

Representatives from the 16 qualifiers for the January 10-31 tournament will also be present to witness a split into four groups from which the winners and runners-up advance to the quarter-finals.

Portuguese Manuel Jose, coach of the host nation, said he did not mind who the Palancas Negras (Black Antelopes) come up against in the first round.

"I don?t have any preference," he told reporters after a training session ahead of a friendly against Ghana on Wednesday. "I would be lying if I said I didn?t want easier teams, but it?s dangerous to think that way."

The charismatic former coach of Egyptian club giants Al-Ahly took over Angola in June after they failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and suffered a string of friendly defeats.

"When we know the teams in our group, we will be analysing them as much as possible," said Jose.

"It?s not going to be easy because they will play little now, but we will be sending our scouts to any games they do play and we will be watching videos and DVDs to know their strategies better."

The draw is generating less discussion among Angolans than an on-going spat between Jose and star Manucho Goncalves.

Real Valladolid striker Manucho was dropped from the squad for friendlies against Congo and Ghana after arriving late for training in Portugal.

Jose publicly blasted the former Manchester United player, saying he needed to learn respect.

Manucho did apologise through the Angolan state media, claiming he was delayed by visa problems, but Jose said this was not good enough and the Angolan sports minister has joined the discussion.

Speaking at a football conference in the capital, Goncalves Muandumba said Angola needed Manucho in the team and that the player should have apologised directly to Jose, not through a media statement.

The 15 teams who have qualified to play in Angola are Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, defending champions Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Togo, Tunisia and Zambia.

The 32-fixture tournament will be played at four new Chinese-built stadiums in Luanda, Benguela, Cabinda and Lubango.

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