Goalless in Luanda
Angola team news
Their first qualification had however been quite a promising one: Angola had first eliminated Senegal on penalties in the 1st Round (1-1 agg.), setting them up for a two-legged 2nd Round match with Algeria. Against one of the major teams on the continent, Angola appear to have made a very good figure, playing 0-0 in Luanda before being defeated 2-3 in Algiers. They might have been newcomers on this stage, but certainly no pushovers. Algeria would later go on to qualify for the World Cup.
The campaign for Mexico’86 was however already 3 years ago, and more recently they had been eliminated by Zaire (1-3) in the 2nd round of the qualifiers for Morocco’88, having first defeated Gabon on penalties (1-1 agg.).
Angola were led by Rúben Garcia, an Argentinian manager who appears to have made a career in Angolan football, having previously led 1º de Maio de Benguela.
Rúben Garcia’s line-up was notably without two of Angola’s most renowned players, Benfica players Vata and Abel Campos. Both had recently signed for the Portuguese powerhouse: Vata from Varzim in Portugal, Abel Campos from Petro de Luanda.
Sudan team news
The last WC qualification had seen them first knock out Tanzania on away goals (1-1 agg.), before crashing out to Libya (0-4 agg.) in the following round. More recently, in 1987, they had experienced a similar fate in the ACN qualifiers, but perhaps with some improvements: Having first eliminated Tanzania 2-1 on aggregate, they were only narrowly beaten by Cameroon in the 2nd round, losing 2-0 in Yaoundé before winning the return fixture 1-0 in Khartoum.
Other signs of optimism could be taken from club performances. Al-Hilal of Sudan had reached the final of the 1987 edition of the African Cup of Champions Clubs. In the two-legged final played in November and December 1987, they had only been denied by Al Ahly of Egypt from calling themselves the best club side of Africa.
While Italia1990.com have found it difficult to identify the clubs of the players in the starting line-up, it is known that the core of the team was made up of players from that famous Al-Hilal side. (It can moreover be no sign of weakness that Al-Hilal, who had proved themselves as a force on continental level, would lose out on the domestic title to rivals Al-Mourada in 1988.)
|1 Mateus Lúcio||26||–|
|2 Nejó||–||Petro de Luanda|
|4 Rasgado||–||Petro de Luanda|
|5 Quim Sebas||–||Petro de Luanda|
|7 Bolingó||–||Petro de Luanda|
|8 Mendinho (c)||sub (-)||–||Interclube|
|9 Túbia||sub (-)||22||–|
|x Paulão||on (-)||–||–|
|x Jesus||on (-)||–||–|
|1 Barimah (c)||32||–|
|5 Issam Ghana||–||–|
Match report and analysis
This was a fairly open-ended contest, with two teams committing men forward. No side had control of the game: Angola were perhaps the better side in possession, but Sudan had plenty of attacking power once they managed to break forward.
Sudan’s narrow 4-3-3
By far the most interesting thing here was Sudan’s set-up, which – in contradistinction to Angola’s conventional 4-4-2 – was a strange one. Manager Sayed Saleem had set his players out in a 4-3-3 with three narrow forwards: Riyah, Qaqarin and Hasoun. The two latter dropped deep to connect midfield and attack, but none of them sought wide positions. The narrowness of the system was baffling.
Neither did Sudan have the normal advantage of a 4-3-3 with a spare man in midfield, as Kandoura played to the wide right leaving Menqistou and Badreddine in a 2 vs 2 in central midfield. Sudan’s big problem was that they continued trying to playing their way through the middle with short passes to Badreddine and Menqistou, who simply didn’t have the time on the ball or ability to do an effectual job. Menqistou is really a powerful holding midfielder who is a very able destroyer with his range and physique, but a sloppy passer of the ball, while Badreddine surely is better on the ball, but here quickly surrounded by Angolan players.
Sayed Saleem might have envisioned that width would be provided by Kandoura and the enigmatic Tinqua, the left back. Kandoura remained isolated however and didn’t manage to involve himself in the game, and Tinqa, despite several attempts, found it hard to pass the halfway line with the ball. Tinqua possesses both flair and determination to start attacks for Sudan, but this was not his game.
Angola’s woes against the Sudan forwards
Sudan were perhaps weak in midfield, but as soon as they managed to break through the Angolan block (often through a more direct approach and random passes), they possessed both the attacking presence and qualities to create opportunities against Angola. The Sudanese forwards were perhaps isolated, but able to create openings once they received the ball high up the pitch and through their sheer number ensured Sudan had plenty of options and presence in the box.
Key here was Angola’s struggle to cope with three narrow forwards. Angola left back Rasgado was frequently sucked into the center to pick up one the attackers, and this opened up spaces for wide man Kandoura. Kandoura enjoyed a strange first-half, rarely involved in the build-up and left isolated on the right hand side, but made some of the most telling contributions because of Angola’s trouble picking up the front trio. As Angola’s defence was stretched and fully occupied with marking the three Sudanese attackers, Kandoura was able to create havoc in their defence when drifting inside.He was presented with the best opportunity of the 1st half as he combined well with a tightly marked Hasoun, and had a shot from a slightly narrow angle that went wide off the post.
Angola’s deep crosses
While Angola struggled when Sudan managed to break forward, they did have the majority of possession. The team philosophy was based on slow build-ups, a style which probably was better suited to them than to Sudan. They completed a larger number of passes than Sudan and generally looked more comfortable on the ball.
Captain and playmaker Mendinho was at the heart of things, trying to dictate tempo of the game and spraying passes from side to side. But while Angola looked more confident in possession of the ball, they were also predictable and a bit unimaginative – and just less exciting in the final third than Sudan. It was workmanlike and some spark from the two missing Benfica players Vata and Abel Campos had been much needed.
Angola were however frequently able to combine on the right hand side through clever movement by Mendinho and the support of right back Nejó, overloading Sudan left back Tanqa. Tanqa was forced to either close down, creating spaces behind him for one of the forwards to run onto, or to drop off, leaving space in front of him.
Right back Nejó exploited the latter opportunities by swinging in a number of crosses from the deep that allowed Angola to move the action into their opponents’ penalty area. Túbio and Mavó might not have the class of the absent Vata inside the penalty area, but enjoyed their tussles against a sometimes indecisive Sudanese defence.
Both teams had chances here to score a goal, and with the open-ended nature of the game, it was perhaps surprising that the game petered out on 0-0.
(Ratings are based on the 1st half only)
1 Lució 6.6
2 Nejó 6.7
3 Ocarro 6.4
4 Rasgado 6.5
5 Quim Sebas 6.6
6 Barbosa 6.5
7 Bolingó 6.7
8 Mendinho 7.0
9 Túbia 6.8
10 Mavó 6.9
11 Docas 6.9
1 Barimah 6.8
3 Magdi 6.6
4 Tanqa 6.9
5 Issam Ghana 6.7
6 Tariq 7.1
7 Qaqarin 6.5
10 Riyah 7.1
11 Hasoun 6.7
12 Kandoura 7.0
13 Badreddine 6.7
15 Menqistou 6.6