Angola coach Pedro Gonçalves has revealed that his side has shaken off the disappointing draw against Mali with a firm focus of defeating Mauritania when the two sides clash on Friday.
Palancas Negras blew a 3-1 lead after 77 minutes when they conceded twice in the next five minutes and dropped two points in the most dramatic game so far at the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria.
With their second match of the tournament looming against the Mourabitoun in Group D at the Miloud Hadefi Stadium in Oran, Golcalves says they have worked to fix the errors they made in their opening match of the tournament.
“We have been working a lot in training and have corrected these mistakes. We must be more aggressive especially in the final third of the game and to stay focused for the whole game. We have taken all the necessary corrections so that we do not repeat these mistakes,” explained Goncalves.
“We are confident that in the next match, we shall be better. Our next game is very tough because our opponents Mauritania know that if they lose the game, they are out of the tournament. So, we must be careful, and our attitude must be right.”
“How can we motivate our players? There is no magic trick. Winning a game is the best motivation that a team can achieve. What we want is talented players who are proud to represent Angola. In this group of players here in Algeria, we have that, and I am proud of my team.”
Angola who are competing in their fourth CHAN edition reached the final in their debut participation in 2011 but did not make it past the group stages in 2016 in Rwanda. Two years later in Morocco, Palancas Negras reached the quarter-finals.
For Goncalves, the 2022 edition in Algeria is a fresh chance to remind everyone that Angolan football is on the rise and to reflect that, they must do well and to achieve that, they will need to win their game against Mauritania to stand a chance of bettering their past three appearances and eye the crown.
“I believe that we are on the right track. The Angolan team has developed and progressed. We are trying to meet the expectations of the fans back home. We shall do our best. There is a difference between what we want to achieve and what is in front of us. We want to achieve some progress. We want to be in every competition and come to tournaments like this regularly. It shows what we can achieve.”
“We try to assert our presence on the pitch. One day we shall achieve our goal and for now, we take it one game at a time. Our players support each other. We will try to win. We cannot take the next game lightly,” Goncalves added with passion.
“We are in a group of three teams so already it is difficult to make it to the next stage if you lose one game. We want to show the level of our championship when we play in a tournament like the CHAN. We have already seen some exciting games here in Algeria and so we must be good ambassadors of Angolan football.”
Gonçalves wants this Angolan side to reflect the growth of their league back home that saw Pedro de Luanda reach the 2021/22 CAF Champions League semifinals while Sagrada Esperança featured in the group stages.
For Gonçalves who qualified Angola to their first ever FIFA U17 World Cup participation back in 2019 in Brazil, success at this CHAN is not just important for him as an individual but also for the country and the work that he has been doing in the last four years in the southern African nation.