Angola coach Pedro Gonçalves says his team are ready to prove their quality against African football giants Nigeria when the sides meet in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals on Friday.
Angola have defied expectations to reach the last eight in their first quarter-final appearance since 2010. Led by star striker Gelson Dala, they topped Group D unbeaten and now aim to shock three-time champions Nigeria.
Speaking at pre match press conference on Thursaday, Gonçalves declared his sides readiness to face the three times Champions.
“This match means a lot for our team and for the entire Angolan nation, which has dreamed for years of seeing the team at this stage of the competition,” Gonçalves stated ahead of the clash.
“We will face Nigeria, a great nation in African football…
Gonçalves acknowledges Nigeria’s quality and experience. The Super Eagles have historically dominated African football, winning the Africa Cup of Nations three times previously.
However, Gonçalves insists his team has evolved and will be up for the challenge, praising his squad’s dedication and hard work to reach the last eight.
“This match is an opportunity to show our worth; we have worked and given our all to reach this level of the competition. I congratulate my team, which has always been dedicated.
“The match is an opportunity to show that we have evolved.”
Gonçalves acknowledged Nigeria will pose a stern threat with their talented Europe-based stars.
“We respect Nigeria for what they have demonstrated so far in African football.,” he said.
:”Currently, Nigeria has a very strong team with players who play in major European leagues, such as the Premier League and Serie A…
“They use the best playing system to compete in this Africa Cup of Nations.” he noted.
Angola has surprised many by making it this far in the tournament and wants to prove it deserves to be on this stage.
Forward Manuel Cafumana insisted Angola will bring the same fight and spirit that helped them surprisingly top their group.
“Tomorrow, we will have a match that will allow us to prove ourselves,” he saif
“I am proud of what we have accomplished since the beginning and especially the pride that we currently represent for our country.
“We will fight against Nigeria as we did in the first four matches. We will play as usual..”
The match kicks off at 17:00 GMT as Angola aim to defy expectations and reach the semi-finals.