Wednesday Sep 04, 2019. 10:00
Equatorial Guinea’s young Spanish coach Angel Lopez says the confidence boost from their last competitive match will stand his side in good stead as they ready to take on South Sudan in World Cup qualification on Wednesday and again next week.
“We are in a good way,’ says the 36 year-old, who has been in charge of Nzalang Nacional for the last year. “In think we are building a good team.”
Nzalang Nacional return to a happy hunting ground in Khartoum, where they notched up their biggest success last March, to take on South Sudan in the first leg of their preliminary round tie with the return next Tuesday in Malabo.
South Sudan have ceded home advantage because their stadium is June is undergoing reconstruction.
Equatorial Guinea notched the biggest away win of their 33-year-old involvement in international football, dating back to 1986, when they beat Sudan 4-1 in Khartoum at the end of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign in March.
The match might have been of academic interest only as both countries had no chance to qualify but it was only a second ever away victory for the country, following a 1-0 win in Andorra in a friendly in 2015.
Equatorial Guinea’s overall record winning margin was 4-0 at home over South Sudan in 2016 in Africa Cup of Nations qualification and Lopez’s charges will be favourites again for the two-legged tie at the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
“It should be easy but you know how things go in football … nothing is easy in football and we have to stay focused and we have to put everything into the game,” he said.
“In Equatorial Guinea, we have quality players but from a point of view of fitness and conditioning it’s not the best in Africa. But we players with good tactical quality. The country was a Spanish colony before so there is closed relations and we play like Spanish team.
The idea is to play with the ball, build the attack, build from the goalkeeper and to have possession all the time. This is our idea and this is what we are working on.
The players are really happy with this kind of approach.”
Equatorial Guinea‘s latest recruit is Spanish-born Pedro Obiang, who recently moved from West Ham United to Sassuolo in Serie B, and who scored in the record win in Khartoum last March.
“When I took over the national team I went to London two or three times to persuade him to come and play for the national team. He didn’t want to play with Equatorial Guinea because he was perhaps thinking we weren’t on a decent level.
“But when he came for the first time, he was really surprised at the level and he played against Senegal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. He can lift the standard of the rest of the players. For us he is the most important.”