World Cup Appearances: None
AFCON Titles: None
The Mozambican national football
team, known as the Mambas did the unexpected in November 14, when they beat the then high flying Tunisia 1-0 at home to book a place in the
2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola and in the process denied the Carthage
Eagles a coveted World Cup berth.
This will be the fourth time
the Mambas will be making a stab at the continental championship. They
previously qualified for the competition in 1986, 1996 and 1998, but didn’t progress
past the preliminary stages.
But this time round, a more
experienced squad under a new impressive coach Mart Nooij is gearing
for battle ready to make a good impression by shaking the continental
football big boys this January in Angola.
Road To Qualification
Mozambique was in Group 7 during
the 2010 World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations second round qualifiers. The
group was completed by Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar and Botswana. After the completion
of six games for each team, Cote d’Ivoire led the group with twelve
points with Mozambique coming second with eight points. Madagascar
and Botswana finished in the third and fourth with six and five points
The top two qualified to the third
round qualifiers. Mozambique was pooled in Group B with Nigeria,
Kenya and Tunisia as the other teams. After the completion of all the
group matches in November 14 2009, Nigeria pinched the top spot with
twelve points with Tunisia coming close second with eleven points.
Mozambique picked up the third spot with seven points and Kenya tailed
the group with three points. The top three teams; Nigeria, Tunisia
and Mozambique qualified for the African Cup of Nations in Angola.
In the African Cup of Nations
finals, Mozambique is in group B together with Nigeria, Egypt and Benin.
Mart Nooij was appointed in
February 2009 and took charge of the second round campaign. He managed
the team during the third round before forcing their way to the continental
finals. The Dutchman took over from Artur Semedo, whose contract expired
and was not renewed.
Nooij previously worked with the Dutch FA as a training instructor.
He was also coach of Burkina Faso's under-20 team, which took part in
the 2003 World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. His first
match in charge of Mozambique was an African Nations Cup qualifier on
the road at Burkina Faso in March.
The tactician did a sterling
job with the Mambas, considering the fact that the team edged Tunisian in the final match of the qualifiers. The outstanding performance even led to the
Nigerian Football Federation president Sani Lulu holding talks twice
with him after the qualifiers with a view of contracting him to lead
Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations and FIFA World in South Africa. Nothing
though came out of the talks weeks later.
Nooij is widely credited with
the resurgence of Mozambique, leading to their qualification for the
Nations Cup after an 11-year absence.
Luís Bucuane (Tico-Tico)
Tico-Tico, who captains the
Mambas was born in 1973 in Maputo. The South Africa based striker has
played a key role in the team despite his advanced age. Most notably,
he scored the single goal against Kenya in Maputo which later became
decisive as the two sides fought for the Continental finals spot.
Tico-Tico currently plays
for Jomo Cosmos in South Africa and is the most capped player in Mozambique, while also holding the record for the most international goals for his country.
The striker has played
for a number of clubs such as GD
Maputo, Estrela Amadora, Jomo Cosmos
(has been to the club three times in his career), Tampa Bay Mutiny, Supersport United, Orlando Pirates,
Simão Mate Junior (Panathinaikos)
The 21 year-old defensive midfielder
has already earned almost a permanent place in the team. The lad who
plays for Greek division one team, Panathinaikos FC has made 45 appearances
for the club and scored one goal from his defensive position. He has
10 caps for the national team. Though he has not scored any goals for
the Mambas as yet, he is key to their ability to hold off attacking sides.
He joined the Greek team who
feature yearly in the European Champions League in 2007 from Mozambiqan
side Clube Ferroviário
de Maputo on a four
year deal. He signed a new contract with Panathinaikos in February of this year, which included a higher release clause.
The youngster has since
become a revelation because of his solidity, strength and tenacity.
Despite his young age, he has made a fair share of first-team appearances and has
become a precious solution for his club.
If the lad can carry his club
exploits to Angola, he will not only help his national team make a mark on the continental stage, he will also open doors for Europe’s
bigger clubs to come knocking.
Mozambique are hoping to do
better than their previous three appearances on the continental stage.
Despite being grouped against Africa’s big boys, the new coach has
given the team confidence and they will be ready for battle come January. Reaching the quarter-final stage would be a big statement
for the team that is emerging as a strong continental side.
The chances of Mozambique advancing
beyond the preliminary stages in the Angolan finals look dismal as they must beat Nigeria and Egypt, the two top teams in the group, and
Benin who showed great maturity during the qualifying rounds. It looks unlikely
that they will beat the two giants. The best they can manage is finishing
third in the group.