Madagascar have put one foot into the quarterfinals of the African Nations Championship with a superb victory over Ghana in their Group C clash on Sunday, a first win at the continental finals for the COSAFA region.
Goals from Solomampionona Razafindranaivo and Olivier Randriatsiferana secured the victory and follows a 0-0 draw for Mozambique in their Group A opener against Ethiopia. Angola play their first game against Mali on Monday.
Morocco’s withdrawal from the competition means Madagascar’s group now has only three teams and so their victory is a huge boost their chances of reaching the knockout phase.
They will need only a draw in their final game against Sudan on Jan. 23 to advance, though they will go the even in defeat if Ghana fail to beat Sudan on Thursday.
“I am very proud of my players and what they have produced,” Malagasy coach Romuald Rakotondrabe said. “They beat the favourites and as I mentioned (previously), the game of football is played on the pitch and not on paper.
“We must also be careful not to get carried away. Beating Ghana does not mean we can win the tournament. We still have more matches to play and they will be just as difficult.
“(But) we have highly dedicated players who are willing to do anything for the team. We have been together for years and we are like a family.
“We also tried watching some videos of the opposition, but the victory is definitely due to the team spirit, unity and solidarity that exists in the camp and the pride we have for our nation.”
Rakotondrabe also praised his players for staying calm under pressure when Ghana pulled a goal back.
“The game became a bit tense after we conceded. They really came at us, but my boys managed to remain calm and gave it their all in ensuring that we do not concede any further. We had a really good game, and I am proud of my boys.”