Sports Features of Sunday, 27 January 2013

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AFCON 2013 Profile: Cape Verde


Best Performance None
Champions None
Runners-Up None
Third Place None
Fourth Place None


Cape Verde have participated in eight Afcon qualifying campaigns since 1994, and they have finally booked their place for the first time at the 2013 Afcon finals, after a stunning 3-2 aggregate win over four-time champions Cameroon in the second round. The Blue Sharks kicked off their campaign with a 4-0 defeat of Madagascar in the first leg of the first round, before wrapping it up to 7-1 on aggregate in Praia, fuelling hopes for a historic qualification to the showpiece, but few would have imagined the positive ending to the story with the Indomitable Lions in their path.


Amongst the 16 national teams coming to South Africa in January to participate in the 2013 African Nations Cup (Afcon) is the tiny island nation, Cape Verde.

It was this team which prevented the highly-rated Indomitable Lions of Cameroon from coming to the continental showpiece. With their brand of Portuguese football style, they stunningly defeated Cameroon 3-2 on aggregate to secure their first ever berth in the Afcon finals.

Their 3-2 win over Cameroon on aggregate score, followed a 2-1 defeat to Cameroon at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaound,, having won the home leg 2-0 in Praia just weeks prior to their qualification.

The Cape Verde Islands became independent from Portugal in 1975. The national team's first international was a 0-3 defeat to Guinea-Bissau in the 1979 Amilcar Cabral Cup. Cape Verde's football association was formed in 1982, and joined FIFA in 1986.

Cape Verde has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup - it's first World Cup qualifying campaign was the 2002 World Cup qualifiers, in which Cape Verde was eliminated in the first round after one draw and one defeat against Algeria.

In the qualification campaign for the 2006 World Cup and the 2006 African Nations Cup, Cape Verde advanced to the final round after its first victory in a World Cup qualifier, beating Swaziland. In the final round, the team made an impression with its first ever away victory against Burkina Faso, but finished 5th in its group and failed to qualify for either final.

Head coach Joao de Deus from Portugal brought in several new players from European leagues for the 2010 World Cup/2010 African Nations Cup qualifiers. Cape Verde finished second in its group in the Second Round, ahead of Tanzania and Mauritius, but behind Cameroon, and did not advance to the third round. Cape Verde's top goal scorer of the qualifying campaign was Dady.

Cape Verdeans abroad, who are more numerous than the population of the islands themselves, are a major source of players for the national team. Most of Cape Verde's current international footballers play outside of Cape Verde (mainly in Europe, but also in Asia), and some were born outside of the islands.

Several players of Cape Verdean origin have chosen to play for other national teams. These include Eliseu, Nani, Manuel Fernandes, Rolando, N,lson Marcos, and Silvestre Varela, who all represent Portugal, as well as Micka%l Tavares, Jacques and Ricardo Faty (Senegal), Patrick Vieira (France), Gelson Fernandes (Switzerland), Henrik Larsson (Sweden), David Mendes da Silva (Netherlands) and Rui (Equatorial Guinea), among other examples.

During the 2013 Afcon draw on 24 October, Cape Verde were drawn into Group A of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, alongside the host nation South Africa, Angola and Morocco.

They will play their opening match of the tournament at Soccer City in Johannesburg against Bafana on 19 January 2013. Soccer City will also be the venue of Afcon Cup final.
Pulled from the 4th pot during the group stage drawing of the tournament, Cape Verde actually had the highest FIFA ranking of any team in their group at the time of the drawing, ranking at 51st overall, followed by Morocco (71st), South Africa (72nd) and Angola (83rd).

Cape Verde also had the 10th highest FIFA ranking in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) zone at the time of the Afcon final draw as well.

Cape Verde has two titles: it hosted and won the Amilcar Cabral Cup in 2000, and won the gold medal in the football tournament at the 2009 Lusophony Games. The team also won a bronze medal at the 2006 Lusophony Games. For the first time in its history, on 2 November 2002, it faced a non-African team, Luxembourg, in a friendly, resulting in a scoreless draw.

On September 4, 2009, it faced Malta in a friendly, resulting in a 2-0 victory. On 24 May 2010 Cape Verde played out a 0-0 draw in a friendly match against a full-strength Portugal. At the time, Portugal was third in the FIFA rankings and Cape Verde was 117th.
As part of preparation for their debut 2013 Afcon finals, Cape Verde will establish a base camp in Portugal.