A star is born at the COSAFA Castle Cup – Manucho

When Angola forward Manucho took his bow in the 2006 COSAFA Castle Cup he was a virtual unknown outside of his own country, but shortly after that he would win a move to one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Mateus Alberto Contreiras Gonçalves, otherwise known as Manucho, is still playing today in the Spanish La Liga for Rayo Vallecano but can point back to his COSAFA Castle Cup campaigns in 2006 and 2007 as the start of bigger things.

Back then he was playing for local side Petro Atlético and won a call-up to the Palancas Negras squad for the COSAFA Castle Cup, having found his path to the national team blocked by the excellent form of fellow forward Flavio.

He came on as a substitute in the preliminary round final in 2006 against Lesotho as Angola won comfortably 3-1.

He then started the main competition final later that year against Zambia in Lusaka, but could not help his side slipping to a 2-0 defeat as Dube Phiri and Chaswe Nsofwa scored late goals for the home side.

Manucho was back to play in the preliminary competition in 2007, scoring the first goal as Angola defeated Lesotho again, this time 2-0.

Palancas Negras then took on Botswana in the following day, but after a 0-0 draw, Angola lost 3-1 on penalties with Manucho missing their final kick.

In between the two tournaments he had not been included in the Angola side that competed at the World Cup in Germany in 2006, but would go on to become a regular fixture.

He score four goals, including the strike of the tournament, at the 2008 African Nations Cup, and would also appear at the 2010 and 2012 events, where he netted on each occasion, as well as in 2014.

His club career had taken a giant leap forward as he moved from Petro Atlético to English Premier League giants Manchester United in 2008.

He found the going tough at Old Trafford and went out on loan before later signing for Valladolid in Spain and finally his current club in 2014, where he remains a stalwart performer.

He has not played for the Angolan national side since a draw with Ivory Coast in March 2015.