PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa - Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes has apparently learned a lot from friend and mentor Jose Mourinho, including how to engage in the occasional coaching mind game.
Antunes pretended to be on the phone with Mourinho on Friday after telling reporters the Real Madrid coach would help him with his tactics for the African Cup of Nations quarterfinals against Ghana on Saturday.
Antunes could have been joking and engaging in Mourinho-like mind games when he smiled widely when answering a question on whether Mourinho had also already helped him guide his underdog team to the last eight in South Africa.
Antunes said at the beginning of the African Cup that he and Mourinho never spoke about football. But he changed that position on the eve of Cape Verde's quarterfinal match against one of the title favourites and in response to the Ghanaian media's growing interest in his relationship with one of the world's top managers.
"Yes, it is true. Today we will be talking after I know what the composition of Ghana's team is," Antunes said, smiling. "So yes, we are talking and Jose Mourinho is giving me advice."
Antunes then held a cellphone to his head and said "Hello, Jose," as he left the news conference laughing.
What was clear was Antunes' opinion that Cape Verde wasn't as big an underdog as many thought against four-time African champion Ghana.
"We are now more confident," Antunes said after Cape Verde surprised to reach the second round in its first major tournament, eliminating Morocco and Angola on the way. "And we are confident that we are going down to the final."
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah also recognized the threat Antunes' team represented to his favoured Ghana team, which was still expected to go through to the semifinals despite any possible help for Cape Verde from Mourinho.
"With Cape Verde, they have never even qualified for the quarterfinals before," Appiah said. "For them to be there is a big achievement. Certain teams have no pressure on them, as compared to us."
© Copyright 2013