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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 09:13 GMT
Manucho raises Angolan cup hopes
By Franklin Tembo and Ben Wyatt

There were many highlights of the 26th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana, where 32 games and 99 goals produced the same Egyptian champions.

Manucho emerged as one of Africa's most exciting talents in Ghana

But for Angola there is an abiding memory that eclipses all others, namely the explosion onto the international scene of new goal-scoring prodigy, Manucho.

The 24-year-old's four goals were some of the most exciting of the tournament and helped push his side to a narrow quarter-final defeat against eventual winners Egypt.

These strikes capped a good few years for Manucho who scored 31 goals in the last two seasons with club side Petro Atletico and struck five times in 13 appearances to help the Palancas Negras qualify for the Nations Cup.

Heads were turned when a three-week trial at Manchester United led to the Premier League giants signing the striker before the Ghana event; not that Angola coach Luis Goncalves seemed surprised.

"I have very little to say about Manucho. What he is able to do with the ball on the pitch tells enough about him," Goncalves said.

His team-mates, however, have been more willing to wax lyrical about their frontman.

Sweden-based Angola midfielder, Paulo Jose Figueiredo, is positive that Manucho will be a hit in the Premier League.

Manucho celebrates scoring at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations

"He is young man who will greatly improve during his stay at Manchester United. He has done a lot for Angola already and I am sure there is more to come," Figueiredo said.

Leeds United and Angola defender Rui Marques is optimistic about Manucho's future too.

"He is very enthusiastic about playing in England, but he knows the job he has to do for his country as well. He will make it," Marques said.

With the Nations Cup heading to Angola in 2010 there is a growing excitement that Manucho will have developed into a player able of leading his country to greater heights.

"Can you imagine what sort of player we will have in him by that time?" said Dr. Dibondo Abrao, the national team's interpreter and one of the country's regional football league directors.

Manucho (right) with Sir Alex Ferguson
Manucho has recently completed his move to Manchester United

"He is great for our football but high standards come with exposure so we need more players out there (like him)," said Dr. Abrao.

Construction has already started on four new stadiums in Benguela, Cabinda, Lubango and the capital Luanda for the biennial event, at a cost of US$440m.

And Suleman Hububa, spokesperson for the Confederation of African Football (Caf), hopes Angola will be able to improve on areas that were problematic in Ghana.

"We need to see things like high speed internet connections and proper telecommunications are in place to deliver a successful tournament.

"Training pitches need to be constructed well in advance. They also need to ensure they have the human resource capacity to deliver a successful tournament and smooth working experience for the media," said Habuba.

When the attention of the world turns to the south African region in 2010, for the hosting of the Nations and World Cup, Angola will hope to have these other qualities on show as well as the talents of Manucho.

2008 Cup of Nations qualifying
20 Oct 07 |  African
African players under the radar
21 Jan 08 |  African
Manucho gets United chance
01 Dec 07 |  African
Egypt 2-1 Angola
04 Feb 08 |  African
Manucho set for Greek loan move
31 Jan 08 |  Man Utd
Senegal 1-3 Angola
27 Jan 08 |  African
South Africa 1-1 Angola
23 Jan 08 |  African


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