FIFA Rank: 63
Coach: Lúcio Antunes
Captain: Fernando "Nando" Maria Neves
Nickname: Blue Sharks
Previous AFCON finish: N/A
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
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.
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
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.
Goalkeepers: Fock (Petro Atletico/ANG), Rilly (Mindelense), Vozinha
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)
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.