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Soccer-Cape Verde replace singing coach with geography professor

Reuters

Feb 15 (Reuters) - The singing air traffic controller who coached the tiny Cape Verde Islands to unexpected lofty heights in African football was replaced by a geography professor on Saturday.

Felisberto Cardoso, known as Beto, has been named as the new national coach of the island archipelago, the Cape Verdian Football Federation said.

He replaces Lucio Antunes, who combined his coaching with duties as an air traffic controller at the country's international airport on the island of Sal and steered the former Portuguese colony to a shock place in the African Nations Cup finals last year.

Antunes won as much fame for his coaching acumen as he did for bursting into a song at a post-match press conference after his side reached the Nations Cup quarter-finals in South Africa one year ago.

The Cape Verde were the smallest African country to qualify for the Nations Cup finals and they got through to the last eight in a tournament where many feared them to be the cannon-fodder.

During Antunes' four-year tenure, the Cape Verde moved from a ranking of 108th to 35th in world football. The latest FIFA rankings have them as the fifth best side in Africa.

Antunes has since taken up a full time job with Angolan club Progresso Sambizanga, leaving Cardoso to debut next month when the Cape Verdians play away against Luxembourg in a friendly in on Mar 5.

Cardoso combined his role as a university lecturer with the coaching job at Sporting Praia, and took them to a trio of Cape Verdian championships in the last decade. He also worked as Antunes' assistant. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Pretoria; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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