Madagascar set up all-COSAFA quarterfinal at CHAN

The COSAFA region will have at least one team in the semifinals of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) after Madagascar set up a quarterfinal tie against Mozambique with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Sudan in their final Group C game on Monday.

Goals in the first half from Tokinantenaina Randriatsiferana, Solomampionona Razafindranaivo and Lalaina Rafanomezantsoa set up the victory that sees the Malagasy top their pool and seal a quarterfinal date with The Mambas on Saturday.

“Before the start of the tournament I never had doubts about my team but I was worried about this game today because I watched Sudan against Ghana. All glory to my players,” Madagascar coach Rakotondrabe Romuald said.

“We had a good first half. The players did well. Our next game is against Mozambique. I have watched a few of their games on television. It’s not going to be easy. Everything is possible. It’s going to be 50-50.

“Mozambique finished second behind Algeria. It was a very difficult group with Libya and Ethiopia. We are prepared and have the advantage of staying here in Constantine. I hope the supporters will stand by us in the next match.”

Madagascar also beat fancied Ghana in their pool and are many people’s dark horses for the title, though Romuald has batted away those suggestions for now.

“It’s too early, we are in the quarterfinals only,” he said. “We focus on that first. It’s not because we won two games that we will talk about winning the trophy. We stay humble and remain focused on the next match.

“As we did today and in the game against Ghana, psychological preparation is key. It’s not easy for the players. To some it’s the very first time at this level, so we are doing our best to help them adapt.

“We went to Tunisia to prepare {ahead of the tournament]. We camped from December in Madagascar. I hope we continue in this manner. First we celebrate the win tonight, then turn our focus to the preparations for the quarterfinal.

“True, we are the first team [from Madagascar] to reach the quarterfinals. It’s the fruit of a lot of work back at home. Looking at our history, we have always been eliminated from the start so we have had to do a lot of work to get here.”

COSAFA’s third team in the CHAN, Angola, can also book a quarterfinal place if Mali and Mauritania play to a goalless draw in their final Group D game on Tuesday.

That would leave Fair Play points as the pool decider in which case Mali would need to avoid two yellow cards to advance. A score draw will see Mali advance on goals scored.