LUANDA - Hosts Angola brought the African Nations Cup to life with a 2-0 win over Malawi on Thursday, setting their sights on a quarter-final berth after banishing the memories of their opening game collapse.
The capital Luanda erupted in a fervour of celebration that was tinged with a hint of relief after the home team beat Malawi 2-0 in their second game of the tournament.
The dominant performance helped wipe away the disappointment of Angola's capitulation in Sunday's opening match against Mali, where the hosts were four goals up with a little more than 10 minutes remaining but contrived to draw 4-4.
"I thought we played as well against Mali as we did against Malawi," coach Manuel Jose told reporters after Thursday's win.
"The only difference was us gifting all those goals in the last minutes of our first game. The feeling now is so much better and to be first in the group would be our first choice."
A win in their last group game against Algeria in Luanda on Monday will ensure top place in Group A and a quarter-final at the newly-built 50,000-capacity November 11 Stadium, which has been packed with noisy support for their first two matches.
"Algeria will be tough to beat but we have high morale in our camp. We did not sleep well after the Mali match but we have now shown our strength," captain Kali added.
Angola were quarter-finalists at the 2006 Nations Cup in Egypt and surprise World Cup finalists later that year, but a slump in the last two years culminated in early elimination from the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
However, Jose believes his squad has the potential to go all the way on home soil. "We have the best attack at this competition with six goals in two games already," he added.
Half of those have been scored by Saudi-based striker Flavio but he left the stadium on Thursday with his hamstring heavily bandaged and his hopes of playing on Monday in doubt.comments