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AFCON

MADAGASCAR TARGET HISTORIC QUALIFICATION AFTER BURUNDI’S DEFEAT

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Madagascar moved a step closer to a historic qualification to the knockout stages of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, after they defeated fellow debutants Burundi 1-0 at the Alexandria Stadium on Thursday.

Madagascar raised their tally to four points go second of Group B two points shy from leader Nigeria and move to the brink of reaching the eighth finals in their first ever AFCON appearance.

The game started on a low note as both sides opted for a cautious approach.

The first chance was delayed till the quarter hour mark when Carlous Andriamatsoro had a long range shot that found the safe hands of Burundi’s goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana.

 He was again the hero for “Les Hirondelles” four minutes later when he stopped another scorcher from Andriamatsoro.

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Cedric Amissi had Burundi’s first effort on target after 27 minutes but the defense was there to stop the effort.

Ima Andriatsima tried to break the deadlock but his header missed the target by a slim margin. Both teams went to the dressing rooms with a barren draw.

The second half was no different story with rare chances for both sides in the first 20 minutes.

Gael Bigirimana send a beautiful shot from a free kick at the hour mark but the ball went just over the target.

Bigirimana tried his luck once again from the same situation after 68 minutes but Malgasy goalkeeper Adrian was there to save his side.

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Marco Ilaimaharita broke the deadlock for Madagascar 14 minutes from time. Substitute Paolin Voavy was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and from the resultant freekick Ilaimaharita gave Madagascar what proved to be the game’s lone goal.

Mohamed Amissi could have equalized for Burundi after two minutes but his shot missed the target from inside the area.

Madagascar now needs a point from their final group game against leaders Nigeria to accompany them to the next round.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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