Angola staged a spectacular second-half comeback to claim a deserving 2-1 victory over Central African Republic in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Wednesday.
The Palancas Negras, who are vying for a place in next year’s tournament, scored twice in five minutes in the second half to win the game 2-1 at the Estadio 11 de Novembro in Luanda to send their fans into raptures.
But it was the visitors who broke the deadlock through Samuel Nlend on 32 minutes but the home side rallied after the break as goals from M’Bala Nzola and Gelson Dala sealed the turnaround for the home side.
Angola coach Pedro Goncalves was confident of a home victory and named a very strong starting line-up to face the Wild Beasts with a competitive debut for Helder Costa.
Ary Papel, Nicolaou Yano Duarte and Gelson Dala were all in the start list as the Palancas Negras sought to start the qualifiers on a good note.
But Central Africa had plans to rock the boat and made their first half dominance pay off as they opened the scoring in the 32nd minute through Nlend.
Nlend, who previously represented Cameroon, was making his competitive debut and got his first goal since switching allegiance.
The strike from the Douala-born forward was the difference at the break as Raoul Savoy’s men held on to their lead.
The Angolans lifted their performance in the second half to take total control of the game with consistent pressure on the visitors.
Italy-based M’Bala Nzola restored parity for the Palancas Negras in the 72nd minute before Dala gave them the lead five minutes later with a brilliant finish.
Angola go top of Group E with the resounding victory as Ghana and Madagascar face each other in the other group encounter.