Madagascar vs. Nigeria - Football Match Report

Gernot Rohr

Gernot Rohr

Africa Cup of Nations newcomers Madagascar pulled off a stunning upset of Nigeria on Sunday with a 2-0 win over the three-time former champions to clinch a place in the last 16.

For Nigeria, more than the desire for a historic clean sheet in the group phase, the attractive option of playing a third-place finisher in Round of 16, as well as the need to remain in now familiar Alexandria for their next game, will push them to confront the Barea with all their strength.

Yet after a comfortable start Nigeria gifted their opponents a goal completely against the run of play when a poor pass from John Ogu put Leon Balogun in trouble, with Nomenjanahary pinching the ball on the edge of the area and coolly dancing round Ikechukwu Ezenwa to slot home.

Nicolas Dupuis' wards were the first team to qualify for the AFCON 2019, and have gained tremendous confidence on their debut with the draw with Guinea and victory over Burundi.

However, it has been nearly eight years since the teams met during qualifying for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Odion Ighalo will lead the line for the Eagles and will be ably supported by Samuel Kalu and Ahmed Musa.

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Adrien might have conceded a penalty with his challenge but Nigeria's protests were waved away by referee Bakary Gassama. The ball took a wicked loop off Ndidi's body before falling into the net.

Skipper Mikel Obi, making his 89th appearance for the Eagles, was a shadow of himself, while Alex Iwobi was no magnificent difference when he came on.

Heading into the fixture on the back of a win against Burundi - the nation's first of any kind since October 2018 - Madagascar battled well and were a threat on the break against a Nigeria side who appeared to have the next stage of the competition on their mind.

Lalaina Nomenjanahary gave Madagascar a shock 12th-minute lead in Alexandria after pouncing on ponderous defending, jolting a side ranked 63 places above them in the world.

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