Speaking the Nations Mind

Madagascar Qualifies For First Ever Nations Cup

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Madagascar qualified for their first ever African Nations Cup finals after beating Equatorial Guinea 1-0 at home on Tuesday and were later joined by Egypt, Senegal and Tunisia in the 24-team field for next year’s expanded finals.

With two nations qualifying from 11 of the 12 four-team groups, Madagascar were always going to have a good chance to make the breakthrough, at their 17th attempt, after starting their Group A campaign with an away win in Sudan last year.

Yet successive 1-0 wins home and away against Equatorial Guinea in the last five days took them over the line with Njiva Rakotoharimalala scoring the only goal of Tuesday’s match in Antananarivo.

Senegal won 1-0 in Sudan thanks to a late goal from Sidy Sarr as Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was left out of the team after hurting a thumb at the weekend.

Egypt’s 2-0 away win over eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, was without the injured Mohamed Salah and a 2-1 triumph for Tunisia in Niger ensured the two north African powerhouses qualified from Group J. Firas Chawat scored both goals for Tunisia on his debut.

Uganda need a point from their last two qualifiers to reach the finals after beating Lesotho 2-0 away and Guinea are also on the cusp despite giving up a late goal and being held 1-1 in Rwanda.

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