Angola – With The Help Of Football
Oncocua is located miles away from civi isation in the south of Angola. It is but one of many villages in a country where the ravages of 27 years of civil war will be felt long into the future, but one where football is helping to heal wounds and build new self-esteem.
The miracle happened on 9 December 2005. It was a Friday evening. Manuel Farrusco was sirring in his crowded bar, staring at an old colour TV set, one or two in the entire village, along with 100 other people. The 41-year-old still trips over his words today when he describes how Johan Cruyff reached into Pot 2 and drew Angola into Group D alongside Portugal. “It was as if the country had momentarily stopped breathing. P-O-R-T-U-G-A-L against A-N-G-O-L-A,” he says again, emphasising each individual letter to lend his words even more importance. His hands shake when he adds: “At the World Cup!”
Home ro around 1,000 people, die village of Oncocua lies in the middle of nowhere, far away from civilisation. The next settlement is a six-hour drive away. There are no roads, just abysmal sand tracks riddled with potholes. Yer even here, in the remotest part of the southern Angolan province of Gunene, the excitement ahead of the biggest match of all time knew no bounds. No one had ever thought it possible that the Palancas Negnu, the Black Antelopes, couldqualify for the FIFA World Cup finals. And now they were playing the Portuguese, of all people, llie Portuguese, who had ruled the Angolans for more than 400 years. The Portuguese, who had leh Angola to its own devices, and thus war, in the mid-1970s. The Portuguese, of all people, who still profit from the wealth of their former colony to this day.