TAMALE, Ghana, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba have found themselves upstaged at the African Nations Cup by previously little-known Angola striker Manucho.
The lanky 24-year-old, who is due to join Manchester United after the tournament, has scored three goals in two games to put his team on the brink of a place in the quarter-finals.
Having opened his account in a 1-1 draw with South Africa last Wednesday, Manucho added two more in a shock 3-1 win over much-fancied Senegal on Sunday that left Angola within one point of a first quarter-final appearance.
'We made some mistakes in the first half but in the second half we were the better team,' he told reporters.
'My first priority is to help the team qualify for the quarter-finals but I would also like to be considered as one of the best players of the tournament.'
Manucho's menacing presence in the air has given added bite to an Angola team who have emerged from the shadows of African football in the last few years, notably reaching the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The striker was virtually unknown outside Angola, where he played for Luanda-based Petro Atletico and was the league's top scorer twice in a row, until he impressed United in a three-week trial. He is due to join the English champions once he has secured a work permit.
On international duty, he has formed a dangerous partnership with Egyptian-based striker Flavio, who had previously kept him out of the team at Petro Atletico.
Angola are proof that having players from top-ranking clubs in Europe does not guarantee international success.
The Palancas Negras are a motley collection of players from Angolan-based clubs and others from lower league clubs in Europe, welded together by coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves, who has spent all of his career at home.
Goncalves, nearly five years in the hot seat, acknowledged that the win over Senegal could also boost his own standing.
'The life of a coach is about winning games,' he said. 'This is an important win for my career.'