Well deservedly, the Madagascar national football team players and officials were given a heroes’ welcome from a largely successful 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Tournament.
Christened as “The Barea”, Madagascar had a fairytale run at the championship in Egypt, reaching the quarter final on their first time of asking.
The President of this Island nation H.E Andry Nirina Rajoelina hosted the team at his lavish Lavoloha State Palace in the country’s capital Antananarivo moments after the team arrived from Cairo.
Each member on the 23 man team was thereafter awarded the rank of “Knight of the Malagasy National Order”.
Madagascar beat Nigeria and another first timer at AFCON Burundi before drawing two all with Guinea to progress out of the group for the next stage.
During the round of 16 contest, they eliminated Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a tense post-match penalty 4-2 after normal time had ended 2 goals apiece.
They bowed out in heart breaking fashion, falling 3-0 to Tunisia during the last quarter final duel played at the Al Salaam stadium.
All Tunisia’s goals arrived in the second half from Fejani Sassi, Youssef Msakni and second-half substitute Nam Sliti.
Their fans however, remained positive even after the 3-0 loss to the North Africans.
Madagascar became the only second nation to reach the knockout stages of the AFCON tournament on their debut after Ghana did it in 1963.
Madagascar XI Vs Tunisia:
Melvin Adrien (G.K), Romain Metanire, Jerome Mombris, Thomas Fontaine, Pasacal Razakanantenaina, Anicet Andrianantenaina, Ibrahim Samuel Amada, Marco Ilamaharitra, Charles Carlous Andriamahitsinor, Lalaina Henintsoa Nomenjanahary, Faneva Ima Andriatsima (Captain)