Gonçalves: Faith in Nzola, Angola call-up will assist with Fiorentina

As the Africa Cup of Nations edges closer, national team managers are focusing on Serie A players who will participate in the tournament. Among them is Pedro Soares Gonçalves, Angola’s national team selector, who recently scrutinised M’Bala Nzola’s performance during Fiorentina-Parma in the Coppa Italia. He spoke to Corriere dello Sport about his impressions.

Speaking on Nzola’s goal, Gonçalves stated, “It was one of his typical goals – full of rage and power. Beautiful, in short. Scoring wasn’t easy at that moment, especially as the game was ending and until then, Nzola wasn’t very effective. I believe, however, that this goal will help him gain the confidence he’s been seeking. It might even push him towards a decisive breakthrough.”

Expanding on the striker’s challenging few months, he explained, “His life changed over the summer and adapting to a new reality wasn’t automatic. Things in Florence aren’t as easy as in La Spezia and perhaps Nzola didn’t anticipate this. But this is a challenge he chose, and I’m confident he will wish to prevail.”

Gonçalves also reflected on the often-understated aspect of the player’s character, “He is a shy young man. Nzola’s height, muscular stature may be intimidating, but deep down he’s a kind and introverted guy. He needs to feel confidence around him to perform at his best, and probably he’s not feeling it fully yet.”

Regarding Nzola’s versatility, the Angola coach said, “Nzola performs at his best when asked to attack deeply into space, but he knows how to adapt while playing alongside another striker nearby, as happened during the second half in the Coppa Italia.”

Looking ahead to the Africa Cup of Nations, Gonçalves said, “I have summoned Nzola many times for the national team, so no one believes in his abilities more than I do. Sometimes he hasn’t played, but I consider him a key player, mainly because he always gives his best. I hope he can improve even more this month. And certainly, the prospect of playing again for his country can help.”

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