Angola still have a point to prove

January 20, 2006

CAIRO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Angolan coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves wants his players to prove they merit their place at the World Cup later this year by performing well at the African Nations Cup.

'We have a new status and we need to show that we are worthy of representing Africa in Germany,' he told Reuters on Thursday.

Angola have a tough opening game in the African tournament, against Cameroon in Cairo on Saturday.

'It is an opponent that we respect, but that we certainly don't fear,' Oliveira Goncalves added.

The World Cup finalists suffered a major setback when midfielder Gilberto left Egypt on Wednesday night for an operation on his Achilles tendon.

His absence means Angola will have to change their tactical approach, which relies heavily on Gilberto's runs down the left hand side.

Opponents Cameroon are expected to offer a major test of Angola's new-found credentials, led by the attacking acumen of striker Samuel Eto'o.

Eto'o again criticised the timing of the Nations Cup, telling reporters the African football authorities had to find a solution because of the conflict it caused players with their clubs.

'But we are here now to defend the colours of our country,' he said at a sponsors' function at the Pyramids on Thursday.

Cameroon arrived just 48 hours before their scheduled opener from a training camp in Tunisia.

Eto'o, who has already won two Nations Cup titles, only joined the squad on Wednesday after playing for Barcelona at the weekend in the Spanish league, officials said.

The other teams in Group B are Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.