The fastidious Uruguayan, who boasts over 50 coaching courses on his CV, may have may have implanted conviviality into the Palancas Negras but, at the same time, has shown a remarkable coldness to get rid of the majority of the thirty-somethings in last year’s Cup of Nations squad. The squad for this year’s competition is a mix of solid performers from the last year and those who were largely on the periphery under the previous regimes.
Interestingly, Ferrin oversaw the development of Uruguay national youth teams in the 2000s, managing the likes of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Martin Caceres. With Uruguay having success with the 3-5-2 formation at international level, he has naturally attempted to introduce a 3-5-2 system to Angola albeit not to the desired effect. When he used the system against Zimbabwe in the first leg of the play-off it was spectacularly chaotic and they were 2-0 down in Harare at half-time. Alarmed, he switched to a 4-3-3 and they managed to eventually lose 3-1 and, crucially, get the away goal that would prove to be ultimately decisive.
Angola, Angola flying down the wings
Whatever system Angola opt for, their recent embracing of hyper-efficiency is depicted by the alacrity of their free-wheeling full-backs/wing-backs, the right-footed Lunguinha and the left-footed Miguel, but their wheeling and dashing in the opposition half leaves a lot space in behind. Massunguna and Bastos are the centre-backs whilst Lama, a long-term understudy to the dropped Carlos, finally comes into the tournament as the number one.
Angola will line up with a midfield three irrespective of their system. They’ll play with a deep holding midfielder, Dede, and two central midfielders, 19-year-old Pirolito and, with the broad-chested Dominique Kivuvu failing to make the squad, the third midfielder is likely to be Brazil-based 21-year-old Geraldo, who is the most offensive of the trio.
The Ma-Ma-Camp attacking trident is the strongest area of the team, and their destiny will be determined by their form, especially Manucho. The Real Valladolid striker doesn’t have the burst of pace he used to have, so Djalma Santos and Mateus loll in and around him or drift to the flanks to provide the crosses that Manucho thrives on. The goal-scoring responsibility will chiefly rest on Manucho’s shoulders this time around, though, after Ferrin’s execution of the thirty-somethings means the absence of Flavio, one of Angola’s highest goalscorers and Africa’s most decorated footballers of the noughties.
Manucho’s goals arguably make Angola favourites to win group A
Angola have been largely ignored when discussion of group A knockout-stage qualifiers has arisen, with many tipping them to exit early again. But Angola’s wingers and full-backs, who play fully to Manucho’s aerial prowess, could see them spring a surprise due to the other teams being bereft of a designated marksman at this level.
South Africa’s attack has Katlego Mphela, but it doesn’t even have the basic understanding to get a pass from point A to B, nevermind contemplating goals. Morocco are in a slightly better position but don’t have a guaranteed goalscorer and can be incredibly wasteful in front of goal. Cape Verde, meanwhile, will be relying on counter-attacks and are unlikely to notch that many goals. You could argue, then, that Angola, who beat Zambia 2-0 in a recent warm-up friendly, are arguably in pole position to finish top of group A with the figure of Manucho inevitably producing the goods – he has eight goals in eight Cup of Nations appearances.
Coach: Gustavo Ferrin
Incredibly, Ferrin went 76 matches unbeaten with the Defensor Sporting youth team in the early 2000s, a feat that saw him rise to prominence and land a stream of youth team roles during the 2000s before landing the Angola post more recently.
Key man: Manucho
Manucho, who finished as one of the joint top-scorers in the last Cup of Nations despite the premature elimination, is the star man and very much Mr Clutch. His two goals in the 2nd leg at home to Zimbabwe were decisive in confirming Angola’s qualification:
One to watch: Djalma Campos
The pacey winger’s earlier Angola career was blighted with ill-discipline but he has matured into a useful player. His delivery, from corners and crosses, always seem to find the blindingly powerful headers of Manucho.
Group stage exit.