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Football

Mozambique Fancy World Cup Chances

AFRICA

After the headaches of past qualifying campaigns, Mozambique are filling their fans with dreams of a place at the global showpiece.

  • Chiquinho Conde discusses Mozambique’s revival
  • He backs his side to reach the next FIFA World Cup
  • Chiquinho lauds Geny Catamo and Reinildo Mandava

In the world of football, national teams are often given dramatic nicknames. In Africa, for example, there are the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Black Stars of Ghana. In Mozambique, though, the national team was saddled for years with an ironic, albeit amusing, nickname. The Black Mambas became known as the Paracetamols.

Paracetamol is a medicine taken to alleviate fever and pain and is nowadays most commonly used for headaches. So did the Mozambican national team cure headaches? In fact, it was just the opposite.

“It’s true!” he said. “We were called the Paracetamols because, as you know, Paracetamol is a pill for headaches. Whenever the Mambas played, people asked for Paracetamol.”

But now things have changed. It was back in 1986 when Conde was still a player that Mozambique first qualified for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. By comparison, Angola, another Portuguese-speaking country, qualified for their first AFCON only 10 years later in 1996.

Among the emerging nations, Mozambique also took part in the 1996 and 1998 editions, but then had to wait until 2010 to return to the continental championship. In the meantime, Angola progressed so much that it participated in the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.

“Mozambican football fans lost all belief in the team, which is why they called them the Paracetamols. An entire people were hurting,” said Conde.

He can laugh about it today because fortunately the headaches are a thing of the past. The team even overcame a trauma linked to stoppage time, known as the dreaded ‘Minute 90+’.

“In recent qualifying campaigns we’ve had this tendency to concede goals in the dying minutes and have missed out because of it. Incredible as it seems, we booked our place at the last AFCON thanks to a goal against Benin in the 95th minute,” said a beaming Conde. “We changed the paradigm.

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