Madagascar name new stars in squad for Afcon qualifiers

Madagascar have found three new players among the immigrant community in Europe, including one from Northern Ireland, to bolster their squad for their two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against the Ivory Coast later this month.

Coach Nicolas Dupuis will take 20 players to the first meeting in Abidjan on Friday, March 27 and then add five locally-based players when the two countries meet again in Antananarivo four days later on Tuesday, March 31.

Both countries have won their opening two matches in Group K of the qualifiers for next year’s finals in Cameroon, beating Ethiopia and Niger.

The trio of newcomers are the 27-year-old midfielder Bastien Hery from Belfast’s Linfield; 22-year-old Hakim Abdallah who is on the books at Nantes and 26-year-old Alexandre Ramalingom, who plays at Virtron in the Belgian second division.

All are French born but with Malagasy heritage.

Hery was on the books of Paris St Germain as a junior before moving to Britain in 2013, where he played at Rochdale, Carlisle United and Accrington Stanley. In 2017 he joined Limerick in the League of Ireland and then Waterford for two years.

Abdallah plays for Nantes reserves

Dupuis has recalled back-up goalkeeper Ibrahima Dabo and striker William Gros, who were both in the squad that reached the quarter-finals of the Nations Cup finals in Egypt some nine months ago.

But Barea, as the Malagasy call themselves, will be without Saudi-based captain Faneva Ima Andriatsima, who has announced his retirement from international football


Madagascar squad:

Goalkeepers: Melvin Adrien (Martigues, France), Ibrahima Dabo (St Pierroise, Reunion)

Defenders: Dimitry Caloin (unattached), Thomas Fontaine (Lorient, France), Romain Metanire (Minnesota United, USA), Jerome Mombris (Grenoble, France), Jeremy Morel (Stade Rennes, France), Theodin Ramanjary (Fosa Juniors), Pascal Razakanantenaina (St Pierroise, Reunion)

Midfielders: Ibrahim Amada (Al Khor, Qatar), Anicet Andrianantenaina (Ludogorets Razgrad, Bulgaria), Bastien Hery (Linfield, Northern Ireland), Marco Ilaimaharitra (Charleroi, Belgium), Lalaina Nomenjanahary (Paris FC, France), Rayan Raveloson (Troyes, France),

Forwards: Hakim Abdallah (Nantes, France), Carolus Andriamahitsinoro (Al Adalah, Saudi Arabia), William Gros (Vitre, France), Alexandre Ramalingom (Vitron, France), Paulin Voavy (Misr Lel Makasa, Egypt).


To be added to the squad for second game v Ivory Coast:

Goalkeeper: Razakanirina Rakotohasimbola (AS Adema)

Defender: Andoniaina Rakotondrazaka (CNaPS Sport)

Midfielders: Jean-Claude Marobe (Fosa Juniors), Maminiaina Safidy Rafenoarisoa (Elgeco Plus)

Forward: Arnaud Randrianantenaina (CNaPS Sport)