BERLIN, June 22 (Reuters) - Coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves said Angola's valiant attempt to reach the World Cup second round on their debut showed African soccer had made progress but there was still room for improvement.
'African football is progressing. It's obvious that we Africans can do more than we're doing now,' Goncalves said after Angola's bid to finish second behind Portugal failed after a 1-1 draw in their final Group D game with Iran on Wednesday.
The five African sides at the World Cup finals have sprung a few surprises so far, even though only Ghana and Tunisia can still advance to the knockout stages.
World Cup debutants Ghana beat Czech Republic 2-0 in Group E and already-eliminated Ivory Coast on Wednesday became the first team in 36 years to recover from a 2-0 deficit and win a game at the world cup when they beat Serbia & Montenegro 3-2.
Angola, happy just to have qualified, were delighted when they only lost by only 1-0 to former colonial rulers Portugal and held Mexico to a goalless draw, even though they then expected but failed to win against Iran.
'Each tournament helps us understand that we need to improve technically, need to build infrastructure, improve training. One day the world will realise that Africa has a name to defend,' Goncalves said.
Angola are the only African side at the World Cup finals coached by an African.
The Black Antelopes may have left the World Cup after just three matches but they went home with their heads held high, not least because they ended their goal drought against Iran, who were already playing in their third World Cup finals.
'We don't have a superstar in our ranks and our players are in some of Europe's lower leagues,' goalkeeper Joao Ricardo said after Wednesday's match.
'When you consider all that, I think we did exceptionally well in our first World Cup. All that was missing was a little more experience.'
Angola, who managed to show there was more to their country than war and strife, will now support Ghana and Tunisia as those teams strive to uphold the honour of the African continent.