Cape Verde joined hosts South Africa in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Angola at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday evening.
A first half own-goal from Cape Verde captain Nando had put the Sable Antelopes in charge, but late strikes from Fernando Varela and Heldon saw the Blue Sharks to their first victory in the Afcon and secured a place in the next round, as Bafana Bafana drew 2-2 with Morocco in a concurrent game in Durban.
Angola were the first to threaten a goal, as captain and star striker Manucho headed just wide of the far post from a 12th minute free kick.
The Sable Antelopes dominated the opening 20 minutes, but it was soon the turn of the Islanders to begin to find a foothold in the game and pose some tough questions for their opponent’s defence.
On 33 minutes Angola finally scored their first goal of the tournament and took the lead.
Gilberto whipped in a low cross from the left flank that was sliced into his own net by Cape Verde defender Nando.
The Blue Sharks almost came up with an immediate reply, as Babanco’s free kick was flicked just wide of the target by Julio Tavares in the 36th minute.
A short while later Angola goalkeeper Lama had to palm away a well-hit drive from Platini.
Cape Verde introduced both Heldon and Djaniny at the start of the second half and nearly forced an equaliser soon after the restart, with Julio Tavares seeing a goal-bound header cleared off the line by Manucho Dinis.
On 66 minutes Heldon almost forced a goal for the Blue Sharks with a well-struck free kick, but Lama pushed the ball away to keep his side in the ascendancy.
Finally, with just under 10 minutes to play, Fernando Varela was able to force home a header from a rebound at a corner kick, making it 1-1 and giving Cape Verde genuine hope that they could progress.
In the final minute of regulation time the Islanders’ dream came true when Heldon latched onto a rebound off goalkeeper Lama and fired home a left-footed shot to make it 2-1 and secure a famous victory.
South Africa finished top of Group A with five points.
Cape Verde had the same tally, but were ranked second due to an inferior goal difference (the teams played to a 0-0 draw in their head-to-head match).
Cape Verde (0) 2 (Fernando Varela 81’, Heldon 90’)
Angola (1) 1 (Nando og 33’)
Cape Verde: Vozinha, Carlitos, Gege, Nando, Fernando Varela, Marco Soares, Babanco, Toni Varela (Djaniny 46’), Ryan Mendes, Platini (Heldon 46’), Julio Tavares.
Angola: Lama, Marco Airosa, Dani Massunguna, Amaro, Bastos, Manucho Dinis, Zuela (Yano 85’), Gilberto (Geraldo 80’), Mateus (Dede 64’), Djalma, Manucho