September 12, 2016 / 8:37 PM / 4 years ago

Soccer-Tuneful Antunes returns as Cape Verde coach

Sept 12 (Reuters) - The air traffic controller who sang in celebration after Cape Verde Islands reached the African Nations Cup quarter-finals has been reappointed to take charge of the national team, the country’s football federation said on Monday.

Lucio Antunes, who burst into song at a post-match news conference three years ago, will lead the island archipelego’s bid to reach the 2018 World Cup as they begin the final group phase of the African preliminaries away to Senegal next month.

The 49-year-old Antunes, who combined coaching with his job at Sal airport after being appointed for the first time in 2010, takes over from compatriot Felisberto Cardoso after the former Portuguese colony failed to reach next year’s Nations Cup.

Antunes was as famous for his singing as he was for his coaching by the time he left Cape Verde in November 2013 to take charge of Angolan side Progresso do Sambizangahis.

Cape Verde were the smallest country to qualify for the Nations Cup in South Africa in 2013 but they shocked everyone by reaching the last eight at the first attempt.

They also qualified for the 2015 finals but were narrowly eliminated after the group phase.

During Antunes’ 3-1/2-year tenure, Cape Verde Islands moved from a ranking of 108th to 35th in world football.

They are in an African third round World Cup qualifying group with Burkina Faso, and South Africa as well as Senegal. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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