For the debutant in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the Brave Warriors of Namibia, it will be an acid test to face Pelancras Negras, a side that had once tasted the quarterfinals twice in 2008 and 2010.
For Pelancras Negras of Angola, the two quarterfinals in 2008 and 2010 ended in defeat, first against Egypt in 2008, the eventual winners, and then a loss to Ghana 0-1, the eventual finalist.
For AFCON 2023, Pelancras Negras of Angola will be facing a weaker opposition in the Brave Warriors of Namibia but a team that is considered a walkover.
For both sides, they will be meeting for the second time at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, with the first encounter resulting in a 3-3 draw in the 1998 group stage.
Both countries, Angola and Namibia, haven’t met in any competition since a November 2015 friendly at the Estádio 11 de Novembro, won 1-0 by Angola.
For Angola, their third experience in knockout stages of the AFCON should come as an advantage, especially given that the team now has a fairly balanced squad compared to their quarter-final defeats in 2008 (1-2 vs Egypt) and 2010 (0-1 vs Ghana) squads.
For the Brave Warriors of Namibia, they are still learning the ropes and will be featuring in the AFCON knockout stages for the first time, having won one of their 12 group stage matches at the AFCON with three draws and eight losses. However, they put up a strong defiant posture to defeat Tunisia during Match Day 1 this year.
Pelancras Negras of Angola has won two matches at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, the first time they’ve ever won two games at one edition and the first time they’ve won back-to-back games in the tournament. The six goals they netted in this year’s group stages were as many as they scored across the 2012, 2013, and 2019 tournaments combined (6 in 9 games).
For the Brave Warriors of Namibia, they only qualified for this year’s AFCON knockout stages as one of the four best third-place teams, having scored just one goal and had a goal difference of -3, becoming only the seventh side to progress from a group despite netting just one goal.
Only Tanzania (12) had fewer shots in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations group stage than Namibia managed (22). Indeed, of the 16 qualified teams, only Mauritania (17) faced more shots on target in the groups than Namibia did (14).
During the 2023 AFCON group stage, Namibia completed the fewest passes (545) and was the only side with a passing accuracy lower than 70% across their three games.
Pelancras Negras of Angola, on the other side, had four different scorers at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Mabululu, Gelson Dala, Gilberto, Zine), their joint most at a single edition along with 1998 (Lázaro Oliveira, Paulo Jorge Da Silva, Miguel Pereira, and Quinzinho).
Both Mabululu and Gelson Dala have two goals apiece for Angola at this year’s AFCON. Only two players have ever netted three goals at one edition for Angola: Manucho (4 in 2008, 3 in 2012) and Flávio (3 in 2006, 3 in 2010).
Pelancras Negras of Angola and the Brave Warriors of Namibia get the knockout stage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations started on Saturday at Stade Bouaké, and it’s fair to say both have exceeded expectations in getting this far.
Ranked by FIFA 117 and 115 respectively, Angola and Namibia were two of the lowest FIFA-ranked teams to reach the tournament, with only Gambia (126) and Tanzania (121) below them among the nations to qualify.
They both then commendably came through tough groups. Angola topped Group D as they went unbeaten, drawing with Algeria – one of the pre-tournament favourites – on Matchday 1 before back-to-back wins over Mauritania and Burkina Faso, the latter of whom have reached the semi-finals at least in three of the past five AFCON tournaments.
Pelancras Negras of Angola does have a little more pedigree as they reached the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2010, but victory on Saturday would see them equal that record and give them a chance of reaching a first semi-final.
The stakes have rarely – if ever – been higher for these countries at the Africa Cup of Nations, but dreams of glory will be extinguished for one of them this weekend.
Head-to-Head Despite neither side having a particularly extensive AFCON history, Angola and Namibia have faced each other in the tournament before.
During Namibia’s maiden appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1998, they came up against Angola – themselves only appearing for a second time then – in the group stage.
If Saturday’s meeting is anywhere near as entertaining as that encounter then we’ll have treated as they played out a 3-3 draw. Namibia was twice two goals to the good, but Angola fought back and eventually rescued a point through Miguel Pereira’s 86th-minute equalizer.
Even if Namibia had held on to the win, they still wouldn’t have made it through to the knockouts as they were soundly beaten by South Africa in their final group game then, Benni McCarthy scoring all four goals in a 4-1 win for Bafana Bafana.
Maybe AFCON 2023 will be the dream time for Angola to reach her first-ever Semi-Final berth in AFCON; time will surely tell.