Angola gets Marques

28 February 2006 at 05:24 | 1419 views

By Victor Vago & Nicolas White(BBC Sports)

Defender Rui Marques (photo) has now got the all-clear to play for World Cup bound Angola.

The Leeds United player, who was born in Angola but has lived in Portugal since the age of seven, is expected to feature in Angola’s friendly against South Korea on 1 March.

"Everything has been resolved. I can play for Angola and hope to make my debut on 1 March," Marques said.

The former Maritimo, Benfica, Hertha Berlin and Stuttgart player has been unable to secure a place in Leeds’ first team.

But he said that he will continue to fight for his place, in the hope that his club fortunes would improve.

I’ve not had chances to play for the Leeds first team, as they are doing well and the coach does not want to change things.

"I will stay till the end of the season and then see what happens."

Excited about the possibility of going to the World Cup finals with Germany, Marques hopes he can give an extra dimension to the Southern African team that failed to go beyond the first round at the African Cup of Nations finals.

"I saw Angola’s games at the tournament and things went badly. But there is still time to correct things, so that the World Cup goes better."

Having lived his life in Portugal, Marques freely admits the possibility of facing them in the group stages of the World Cup will be ironic.

"I’m more Portuguese than Angolan because I left Angola when I was seven.

"My mother is Angolan and my father is Portuguese but we left Angola during the war.

"My father had a house in Angola, but we had to leave and follow our own path. I suppose the house still exists, but in whose hands I don’t know.

I spend my holidays in Portugal where I have my base, but maybe one day I could get a place in Angola or even go to live there.

"Portugal has a very important place in Angolan history and the war did not change that."

"There are a lot of Angolans in Portugal and a lot of Portuguese in Angola. I know a lot of Portuguese who returned to Angola because they like it there."

Although Marques is aware that the forthcoming World Cup group game between the two countries comes with historical baggage, he is confident the match will be played without rancour.

"I think there will be a unique atmosphere, a very warm one. There is a good relationship between us and I do not think there will be any problems.

"There will always be individuals who conduct themselves badly. But there is nothing to be gained from violence.

"The match isn’t a question of life and death, there are more important things.

"I think it will be seen as festival of football and there will be an atmosphere of joy.

"All of Angola will want to be present. I believe the allocation of tickets has already been sold, so it means a lot of Angolans will be travelling to Germany.

"Angola has problems, as does Portugal, but after many years of war things are improving."