'Angola will be ready for Afcon 2010'

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Angola were eliminated after a 2-1 loss to Egypt in their quarter-final clash in Kumasi, the first time the southern African country had made it past the first round of the tournament.

Coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves told Reuters that they had shown the potential to challenge for the title.

“The players were on a par with the leading players in Africa but what they lacked in experience, this tournament has certainly given them,” said the Angola coach, the architect of their surprise qualification for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

“The average age of this team will be 28 in 2010. So there is no reason why they can't improve on this showing,” added captain Figueiredo.

The midfielder, who made just a brief appearance at the tournament in Ghana because of injury, says he also hopes to continue his international career despite turning 35 just before the start of the tournament.

“My first priority is to find a club and then if the coach still needs me for the national team I will certainly be available,” he added.

Defender Rui Marques, who plays at Leeds United in the third tier of English football, said it had been a good experience.

“We played a really good tournament. Obviously we’d like to have gone a little further but we lost to a strong Egyptian team. But we are on the right path and I believe in the future Angola will be one of the strong teams in Africa.

“We will have to work step-by- step. Getting to the quarter-finals for the first time was very positive,” he added.

Angola will have to secure the services of coach Goncalves in the coming months, with his contract due to end in December.

“I have had three offers from other countries but if the Angolan federation wants me to serve again then I will be ready,” the coach added.