AFCON 2023: Pedro Gonçalves speaks!

Edwin  - CEO January 15, 2024
Updated 2024/01/15 at 4:03 PM
5 Min Read
Pedro Gonçalves speaks!

Exclusive Interview with Angola Coach



Angola’s major assignment in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023 is to do better than they have done in previous editions. And Pedro gets it.


After having stints with almost every other Angolan national team, Pedro tells CAFOnline exclusively that he thinks he knows the psychology of the team and that a TotalEnergies CAF AFCON is worth the try – again.


In this interview, he discusses the ideal target and navigating past the group stage.


You have handled the Angolan national teams at all levels (U-17, U-20, U-23) and now the senior team. What’s the experience been like so far for you? 


Yes, I have been in Angola since 2015; before that time, I had never been to Angola, and this is a passion we are developing.


After November 2019, I focused on working in two ways. Angola has lots of players abroad playing at a high level. On the other hand, I know the potential of the young players because I worked with them on the youth side. So that process helped me to know who the guys with better potential were, not at the moment, but for the future to push into the senior team. That’s why we have six players from the U-17 World Cup playing in the senior team.


I feel like an Angolan. Maybe I will depart someday to come, but in my heart, it will be with me.


Angola has had a rough time in the AFCON. Before this qualification, they had qualified just once in the last 4 tournaments. What did the magic this time around? 


We feel that at this moment, we have the capacity to achieve and win more matches. We won two games in the qualifiers and lost to only Ghana in the last game. It was tough.

We have been consistent. We are in the middle of the process.


People are delighted sometimes; others too get disappointed, but we must focus on the process. When we look back, we see progress and step by step; we are getting better, so right now, it’s a show for us and everybody.


What does playing in the AFCON mean to you and your career as a coach? 


Playing in the AFCON is perhaps the brightest spot of my career. I was at the CHAN, I was at the U-17 World Cup, but the AFCON is the biggest stage of my career. It’s a big step, and I am delighted about it.


Let’s look at the group you’re in. You will play Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania; what’s your assessment of the group?


We are not the favorite, but we have our chances; Algeria is undoubtedly the favorite. Burkina Faso has been doing a great job in the last five tournaments: twice in the semi and once in the final. They are consistent.


With Mauritania, we have played a lot against them recently. They have a significant investment and are growing, so they participated in the last CHAN and AFCON.


The focus is to cross the group.


What is your ideal target here?


Let’s do what we haven’t done before; this is our main focus. We know if we win twice, we qualify. We will see where our performance and capacity will take us, but we can qualify from the group and try to win the knockout phase. If you do that, then you can go to the finals. Let’s see.


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