- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 17, 2006

HANOVER, Germany — Goalie Joao Ricardo can’t even find a club to sign him in the lower divisions in Portugal. After yesterday’s performance against Mexico, Ricardo may find employment again.

Ricardo, who has played with a string of lower-league teams in Portugal, was the hero for Angola, holding No. 4 ranked Mexico to a scoreless tie in Hanover before 43,000.

With the tie, Angola kept alive the hopes of at least one of Africa’s four debut teams at this World Cup making it into the last 16, after the continent’s best possibility, the Ivory Coast, was eliminated earlier in the day by the Netherlands.

Ricardo, one of Angola’s two white players — he was born in Angola but left with his family for Portugal after Angola gained independence — recorded at least six big saves, one a brilliant dive in the dying minutes, to preserve the shutout.

Losers on a lone goal to Portugal in their first game, the Black Antelopes need a win over Iran on Wednesday for any chance to advance.

Angola was down to 10 men for the last 11 minutes, when Andre was sent off, but Mexico couldn’t find the goal.

The Mexicans, 3-1 winners over Iran in their previous Group D game, were cheered on by a pro-Mexican crowd chanting “Ole, Ole” to every Mexican touch of the ball, drowning out the African fans waving black, red and yellow flags.

Angola escaped an early scare, when Mexican defender Rafael Marquez’s long-range free kick hit the woodwork. The embattled Ricardo then stopped Mexico’s Guillermo Franco with a finger-tip save in the second half. He then pulled off another big save, stopping Omar Bravo, who collected a lucky rebound. But his biggest save came with the clock ticking down, when he dived full length to stop another Marquez long-range blast that looked certain to find the net.

With four points from two games, Mexico is still not assured of advancing. It faces Portugal on Wednesday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide