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About Cape Verde


Cape Verde

FIFA Rank: 63
Coach: Lúcio Antunes
Captain: Fernando "Nando" Maria Neves
Nickname: Blue Sharks
Previous AFCON finish: N/A

AFCON PEDIGREE:

Cape Verde will be making their Africa Cup of Nations debut in South Africa in 2013 having failed to qualify for any of the previous tournaments. They sensationally defeated Cameroon 3-2 on aggregate in a two-legged second-round play-off after a 2-1 defeat away from home having won the home leg 2-0.

Lúcio Antunes' side had comprehensively defeated Madagascar 7-1 on aggregate in the first qualifying round.

It was a case of eighth time lucky for Cape Verde with their previous best coming in 2006 when they advanced to the African Nations Cup final qualifying round by beating Swaziland and securing their first-ever away victory against Burkina Faso, but finished fifth in their group and missing out on qualification.

Under coach João de Deus (2008-2010) who roped in a number of European-based players, their performances where notably improving, but they again failed to qualify for the 2010 and 2012 tournaments.

Cape Verde were drawn into Group A of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, alongside Angola, Morocco and South Africa and will play the opening match of the tournament against the host nation on 19 January 2013.

And interestingly they were the highest FIFA ranked side of any team in their group at the time of the draw, in 51st, with Morocco 71st, South Africa 72nd and Angola in 83rd place.

SQUAD OVERVIEW:

A large proportion of their players are based overseas, in Asia and Europe, with a small number having also been born away from the islands as well.

They have missed out on some talented individuals in years gone by with those individuals having chosen to represent other nations. These include the likes of Manchester United winger Nani and FC Porto’s Silvestre Varela (both Portugal), Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira (France) and Henrik Larsson (Sweden), to name but a few.

They do, however, have inspirational captain Fernando Neves who has been a regular in the side since 2005. The 34-year-old centre-back, who began his career with Portuguese side Amarante, has also played for Portimonense SC, Grasshopper, US Monastir, Al-Siliya, FC Baník Ostrava and is currently contracted to LB Châteauroux.

FULL SQUAD:

Goalkeepers: Fock (Petro Atletico/ANG), Rilly (Mindelense), Vozinha (Progresso Sambizanga/ANG)

Defenders: Carlitos (AEL Limassol/CYP), Fernando Varela (Vaslui/ROM), Gege (Maritimo/POR), Guy Ramos (Waalwijk/NED), Josimar (Dordrecht/NED), Nando (Chateauroux/FRA), Nivaldo (Academica Coimbra/POR), Pecks (Gil Vicente/POR)

Midfielders: Babanco and David Silva (Olhanense/POR), Platini (Santa Clara/POR), Roni (Fola Esch/LUX), Marco Soares (Omonia Nicosia/CYP), Stenio (Feirense/POR), Toni Varela (Sparta Rotterdam/NED)

Strikers: Djaniny (Olhanense/POR), Heldon (Maritimo/POR), Julio Tavares (Dijon/FRA), Ryan Mendes (Lille/FRA), Rambe (Belenenses/POR)

Player to Watch: Fernando Neves

Fernando Neves, more commonly known as Nando, is a stalwart in the Cape Verde defence, having made his debut in 2005 and so far amassing 28 caps for his national side. He was named captain in 2009 and his calmness and composure will be vital to The Blue Sharks' chances of progression. A relatively nomadic footballer who has represented seven clubs in his 14-year professional career, Nando appears to have settled in Lique 2 with LB Châteauroux.

Rising Star: Djaniny

Jorge Djaniny Tavares Semedo, known as Djaniny, moved to Portugal to study, but quickly established himself as a footballer at regional side Grupo Desportivo Velens. Two seasons and 50 goals later, he moved to top flight side União Leiria. In January 2012 Djaniny transferred to Portuguese giants Benfica and represented their reserve team which competed in the second tier of Portuguese football. The young striker scored two goals in Cape Verde's AFCON 2013 qualifying campaign, including a goal in the shock 2-0 win over the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.

Sorely Missed: Ricardo Ferreira

Veteran defender Ricardo Ferreira has opted to concentrate on his club football and will miss the tournament for the Blue Sharks. The 32-year-old, who plays for Paços de Ferreira in the Portuguese first division, believes he has run his course for his country.

ROAD TO FINALS

Cape Verde will be making their first appearance at an Africa Cup of Nations tournament when they arrive in South Africa in 2013.

The Blue Sharks, under the guidance of Lúcio Antunes, who has been head coach since 2010, secured their qualification via a very memorable 3-2 aggregate win over three-time AFCON winners Cameroon.

The tiny island-nation had seen off Madagascar 7-1 on aggregate in their first qualification round to seal a date with the Indomitable Lions.

Their 4-0 win in Antananarivo was followed by a 3-1 victory in Praia. Ryan Mendes da Graca, Dady, Fernando Varela and Toni Varela were all on target in the away leg, with a Mendes da Graca brace and a third from Djaniny securing a memorable home victory.

Spirits were high going into their second round tie although few would have expected Cape Verde to have so comprehensively beaten Cameroon at the Estadio da Varzea where Ricardo and Djaniny were on target.

They were beaten in Yaounde, 2-1, with Heldon Ramos opening the scoring before goals from Achille Emana and Fabrice Olinga, but it wasn't enough to deny Cape Verde as Cameroon failed to qualify for the continental showpiece for the first time since 2006.

And as luck would have it, Cape Verde were drawn to play the opening match against hosts South Africa, having been selected in Group A alongside Morocco, Angola and Bafana Bafana.

Qualifying Results:

First round, first leg
Madagascar 0-4 Cape Verde
First round, second leg
Cape Verde 3-1 Madagascar
Second round, first leg
Cape Verde 2-0 Cameroon
Second round, second leg
Cameroon 2-1 Cape Verde

Ten things you never knew about Cape Verde

1. The Cape Verde national football team is also known as the Tubarões Azuis, which translates to Blue Sharks.

2. Portugal and Manchester United star, Nani, could have qualified to play for Cape Verde as both his parents were born there.

3. Nani aside there are several other prominent football players who boast Cape Verdean ancestry, these include former Arsenal hard-man Patrick Viera, ex-Barcelona’s striker Henrik Larsson and one-time Manchester City midfielder Gelson Fernandes.

4. Charles Darwin reportedly first contemplated the writing of ‘The Origins of the Species’ while in Cape Verde. In fact, part of the first chapter of his work ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’ is devoted to observations he made while in Cape Verde.

5. The Cape Verde islands are not very big with a population of just over half a million. Official stats suggest that there are more Cape Verdean nationals living abroad than there are residing within the country’s borders.

6. Cape Verde is a horseshoe-shaped cluster of ten islands located approximately 570km off the West African coast.

7. When the draw for the AFCON finals groups took place, Cape Verde actually had the highest FIFA ranking of any team in their group. They came in at 51st overall, followed by Morocco (71st), South Africa (72nd) and Angola (83rd).

8. Cape Verde are not a side to be underestimated. In qualifying for their first-ever AFCON Finals they defeated traditional powerhouse Cameroon on aggregate over two legs.

9. Geographically speaking, the Cape Verde Islands are not actually part of the African continent as they lie more than 200 miles beyond the African continental shelf.

10. Cape Verde was reportedly the site of some of the early negotiations between the African National Congress and the then South African Government in the years that preceded the end of apartheid and the birth of the Rainbow Nation.

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