While many teams cast their nets far and wide for coaches – such as defeated Palancas Negras’ Uruguayan coach Gustavo Ferrin – the islanders settled for a humble air traffic controller from capital city Praia.
And if his crooning of national favourite ‘The Biography of a Crioulo’ in the post-match press conference is anything to go by, Antunes could also pass for a handy singer.
“We achieved our objective, we knew it was going to be difficult but we kept at it.
“Today we came here to win the game. There was no chance we could even consider a failure.
“We knew what was happening in the other match between South Africa and Morocco (a 2-2 draw) and that’s why I told the team to attack until the end and it paid off.
“It also started raining and that blessed our effort.”
Antunes was joined up on stage by his squad who played back-up band to his performance with a mixture of dancing, cheering and chanting.
The Blue Sharks are the smallest ever Afcon competitors and, though the highest ranked team in Group A, were expected to fall at the first hurdle.
But after grinding out key draws to set up a do-or-die clash against Angola, Heldon’s injury-time heroics clinched safe passage with a helping hand from South Africa’s leveller against Morocco.
They now await Group B’s winner – one of Ghana, Mali, DR Congo and Niger – in Port Elizabeth on Saturday for a chance to extend the dream even further.
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