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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 16:11 UK

Mambas hopeful after Nigeria draw

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Maputo

Mart Nooij
Coach Mart Nooij feels that the team are growing in confidence

Mozambique coach Mart Nooij believes the goalless draw at home to Nigeria gives his side the perfect platform to spring a surprise result in Tunisia in June.

The little-fancied southern Africans had the better of Sunday's World Cup qualifier in Maputo, finding the back of the net twice only to have both goals disallowed for offside.

"If we can play like this against Nigeria, we can play like this in Tunis," the Dutchman told BBC Sport.

"We were already confident so now the confidence will grow."

Prior to the match, Nooij had been quoting American freedom rights leader Martin Luther King as he explained his dream of topping Group B to reach next year's World Cup.

Yet he refused to be drawn on whether that dream is still valid, merely stating: "For sure, everyone who's coming down to play in Maputo now knows they will have a hard time."

Veteran forward Tico-Tico, who missed Sunday's match with a calf injury, is backing the Mambas to qualify for the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola.

"Our team is growing with each game and I want to believe that with a bit of luck, we can make it," the 35-year-old told BBC Sport.

Tico-Tico (left)
Tico-Tico (left) is expecting the team to qualify for the Nations Cup finals

"I'm coming towards the end of my career so qualification would be the perfect send-off."

Mozambique's record holder both in terms of caps and goals, Tico-Tico is the only squad member to have contested a Nations Cup, taking the field in both 1996 and 1998.

The Mambas have not qualified since bowing out in the first round at the finals in Burkina Faso 11 years ago.

"This time, I believe we're going to qualify because I believe in this group," Tico-Tico asserted confidently.

"We have a very strong squad and qualification would be a reward for the work we've been doing lately, especially with the younger players.

"I've played in very good squads before, but what's surprised me about this group is that they are very young but they're all doing very well so early in their careers - I'm proud of them."

"No one gave us a chance against Nigeria but we played perfectly and could have won the game.

"We're going to have to continue fighting because we have a squad good enough to do something unexpected."

To qualify for their first African finals in 12 years, Mozambique must finish in the top three in Group B where 2004 Nations Cup finalists Kenya will also be vying to reach Angola.



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see also
Egypt and Nigeria in shock draws
29 Mar 09 |  African
Mozambique dream of South Africa
27 Mar 09 |  African
2010 World Cup tables
07 Jun 09 |  African


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