One of the biggest success stories in African football over the last decade, Cape Verde Islands have grown from minnows to something closer to their nickname: the Blue Sharks. They made their World Cup qualifiers debut only in 2000, but they came close to reaching Brazil 2014. However, they were penalised for using an ineligible player, which overturned a famous victory in Tunisia and what would have been a shock place in the final stage of qualifiers.
Cape Verde typically rely on Europe-based players and not a single player from the local league was on the 2015 CAF Africa Cup of Nations squad. They have a formidable strike force, with such electrifying players as Odair Fortes, Ryan Mendes, Julio Tavares and Heldon to call on, and they skew young. The average age of the squad that shocked Portugal 2-0 in an international friendly in March 2015 was 26.
A former striker for Benfica, Porto and Portugal, Rui Aguas was appointed as Cape Verde coach in 2014. He achieved his first goal – qualifying for the finals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations – in convincing fashion, topping Group F and becoming one of the first countries to ensure their place at the finals.
2 – The number of AFCON competitions on the trot that Cape Verde have qualified for after debuting in 2013.
The former stars
Dady, Carlos Morais, Cafu, Nando