Jose: Angola have mental strength
© AFP

Angola coach Manuel Jose is confident his players have the required fortitude to deal with any mental scars left by Sunday's opening game capitulation against Mali.

The CAF Africa Cup of Nations' hosts return to action on Thursday in their second Group A tie to face Malawi, the surprise table toppers after their defeat of FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers Algeria on Monday.

Angola too looked to be set for three points when with quarter of an hour remaining they led Mali 4-0 in Sunday's curtain raiser. But then followed a collapse, as Mali clawed their way back into the game and eventually snatched a draw with two injury time goals.  

I said after the match that in over 1,000 games I've never seen anything like that last 15 minutes. I still feel that now.
Manuel Jose, Angola coach

Jose, reflecting on Sunday's drama, told a press conference at the team hotel in Luanda on Wednesday: "We will have to be mentally very strong to survive that. I think we'll be alright, I have a fantastic group of players. I said after the match that in over 1,000 games I've never seen anything like that last 15 minutes. I still feel that now."

He put his team's collapse down to the fact that half his players are based with clubs in the Angolan league, and half elsewhere but not as first team regulars.

"The Angola league stopped two months ago. Our players weren't in the same physical condition compared to Mali with 99 per cent of their players based in Europe.

"On top of that there was enormous pressure as hosts playing in front of our own fans, a great responsibility.  We will do their best not to disappoint the home fans, who were brilliant on Sunday, it was great to see the stadium full like that.  We want to do our best for these people."