Madagascar secure first ever AFCON appearance

Andriamirado Andrianarimanana of Madagascar in action Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Madagascar have qualified for their first ever Africa Cup of Nations after defeating Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in Antananarivo on Tuesday to become the first team to join hosts Cameroon in next year's finals.

Victory takes the Barea up to 10 points in Group A after four matches, taking them out of reach of Equatorial Guinea (three points) or pointless Sudan.

The Falcons of Jediane will be eliminated on Tuesday unless they defeat Senegal (seven points) in Khartoum.

Njiva Rakotoharimalala scored the only goal of the game in the 42nd minute to take Madagascar to their first finals, and leave Equatorial Guinea on the brink of elimination.

The islanders have enjoyed an upturn of fortunes following the appointment of French coach Nicolas Dupuis, although they remain down in 106th in the FIFA World Rankings

Madagascar defeated Sudan 3-1 away in their first qualifier before holding Senegal 2-2 at home in September, a match overshadowed by the death of a supporter following a stadium stampede at the Stade Municipal de Mahamasina.

They followed that up with a 1-0 away victory in Bata on Saturday, and can now look forward to taking their place among the continent's heavyweights in Cameroon.

Madagascar have failed to qualify for the AFCON on 18 occasions, and withdrew from qualifying three times since their first qualification attempt ahead of the 1972 finals.