Madagascar eye diaspora talent to bolster AFCON hopes

Zacharie Boucher in action for France Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis has revealed his intention to bolster the Barea's squad with diaspora talent ahead of the team's first Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

The East Africans - currently ranked 106th in the world - qualified for their first AFCON tournament on Tuesday when they defeated Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in Antananarivo.

The three points, coupled with a victory against the same opponents in Bata on Saturday, takes Madagascar up to 10 points, mean they qualified for Cameroon alongside group leaders Senegal.

However, coach Dupuis is unwilling to rest on his laurels, and has revealed that he's planning to bolster the squad with foreign-based stars.

"There's one [player] who's very far advanced, and we have to move very quickly," he told Goal. "I've had [Strasbourg's Ludovic Ajorque] on the telephone many times.

"He's hesitating a little bit, but I'm going to call him back," Dupuis continued. "He's someone straightforward, intelligent, who's hesitating to come because Faneva [Andriatsima] is captain.

"[Ajorque] doesn't want to cast a shadow by being in competition with him, but he has to forget that, because Faneva is the first to call for offensive reinforcements."

The influential Andriatsima has arguably been Madagascar's stand-out player of the qualifying campaign, having scored twice in a 3-1 victory over Sudan before netting the winner away in Equatorial Guinea.

However, Ajorque would be a valuable addition for the islanders, having already netted once in four Ligue 1 appearances so far this term.

Another name being considered by Dupuis is former Toulouse goalkeeper Zacharie Boucher, who has represented France up to U-21 level, but is also eligible for both Madagascar and the Reunion.

"For him, it's different," Dupuis continued. "He's still maying thinking about [playing for] France.

"We need him, even if our keepers are doing the job at the moment.

"I've also been told there's a good goalkeeper in the Reunion, but I need to see him. I'm currently looking, but we do absolutely need a quality back-up goalkeeper and an attacker to help Faneva.

"Without doubt, [we also need] a versatile defender who we could unveil soon I think."

The current Madagascar squad already contains Stade de Reims defender Thomas Fontaine, who represented France at youth level, while Marco Ilaimaharitra is another who turned out for Les Bleus' youth sides earlier in his career.