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Thu Apr 24 10:31:22 SAST 2014

Bafana's rivals finish Afcon prep on a high

NICK SAID | 15 January, 2013 06:330 Comments
Chris Katongo, left, of Zambia and Cameroun's Henri Bedimo in an all-out battle for the ball during Afcon 2010 in Angola

ANGOLA completed their Africa Cup of Nations preparations by walking away the 2-0 victors of a clash against Botswana in Johannesburg on Sunday.

A debut goal by former Swiss junior international Guilherme Afonso gave Palancas Negras the lead six minutes before half time. Coach Gustavo Ferrin, meanwhile, looked to be settling on his starting lineup for his charges' opening match on Saturday.

Manucho, who will carry Angola's hopes of scoring goals at the tournament, added a second as Palancas Negras broke through Botswana's defence.

Angola's other pre-tournament results include wins against Rwanda, Cameroon's under-23 squad and Nations Cup champions Zambia. Also, their clash with Gambia ended in a draw. They go into the Afcon undefeated.

Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi received some good news on the weekend when Younes Belhanda was declared fit before the start of the Nations Cup.

The former French under-20 international is expected to play a leading role for Morocco in their campaign, but he had been in doubt for the tournament after he sustained a muscle strain last week.

The Moroccan management have confirmed that the player will resume training today and will be fit for their tournament opener against Angola at Soccer City on Saturday.

Morocco will have a final tune-up for that game when they do battle against Wits in a training match this afternoon.

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund faces criticism about the team's uninspired performances against Norway and Algeria. But their Group A opponents, Cape Verde, meanwhile, have strolled into the country seemingly without a care in the world.

The islanders are revelling in their perceived status as tournament no-hopers, despite being the highest-positioned country from Group A in the latest world rankings.

The players have spoken of their desire to enjoy the experience and have set no targets for themselves. They appeared relaxed and in high spirits at their training base, in contrast to the strained, almost fearful, look on the faces of their Bafana opponents.

And, at this stage, Cape Verde coach Lúcio Antunes has a full squad of players to select from ahead of their opener against South Africa at Soccer City on Saturday evening.

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Bafana's rivals finish Afcon prep on a high

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