THE joy and singing lasted long into the night after minnows Cape Verde made soccer history by advancing to the quarterfinals of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon)on Sunday.
The 10261 fans inside the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium were treated to one of the most exciting games in the history of the competition.
Trailing 1-0 with only nine minutes left, Cape Verde staged a remarkable comeback to beat Angola 2-1 with a last-gasp winner.
Afterwards, delighted Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes dedicated the historic occasion in the Afcon to the "wonderful people" of his homeland.
"Our objective at this tournament has been achieved. We wanted to reach the quarterfinals," Antunes said
What made the Blue Sharks' victory even more remarkable is that Cape Verde, with 500000 inhabitants, is the smallest country to compete at the Nations Cup.
Antunes, who is working as Cape Verde's coach after taking time off from his regular work as an air traffic controller, will now be trying to plot a path beyond the quarterfinals for his ambitious team.
Antunes said he had spoken to his mentor, Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, hours before Sunday's showdown. The islander spent time learning Mourinho's methods late last year.
"We came here with the determination to win this game and from the first minute we worked. It was the dedication of the players.
"We knew what was happening in the other match between South Africa and Morocco and that's why I told the team to attack until the end and it paid off."
Before they arrived in South Africa, Cape Verde had already caused one of the upsets of the cup when eliminating four-time champions Cameroon in qualifying.
Cape Verde Islands captain Nando has revealed that a strong bond of friendship and unity has helped the islanders advance to the quarterfinals.
"Cape Verde is a small country but they have good players. It has talent, players who play in France, Cyprus, Portugal, who play all over Europe," Nando said.
Angola coach Gustavo Ferrin said the first goal his team conceded was fatal.
"We had no option but to attack in search of a winner and left ourselves open at the back." – Additional reporting by Sapa-AP