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Madagascar on the verge of AFCON last 16

Madagascar players celebrate a goal in a previous match

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Jun 27 – On their maiden appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations and just a day after their country celebrated the 59th Independence Day, Madagascar gave its people a wonderful gift, moving a stop into qualifying for the second round of the tourney in their maiden appearance.

The Barea beat Burundi’s Swallows 1-0 at the Alexandria Stadium on Thursday evening, Marco Ilaimaharitra scoring the lone goal in the 76th minute to move the debutants to second in Group B, two points behind leaders Nigeria.

Burundi’s last 16 dream has been derailed and will need to win their last game of the group against Guinea to have a meaningful chance as one of the best four number three teams.

Burundi had a game of two halves, performing brilliantly in the second period after a tough first half.

The Swallows would have been relieved to hear the half time whistle as they were forced to play on the back foot with Madagascar raiding their goalmouth like enraged bees.

Carolus Andriamanitsoro forced Burundi keeper Jonathan Nahimana to a good save after 13 minutes, the keeper smoother behind a well struck freekick for a corner.

Five minutes later, Nahimana had to make a brilliant save from close range to keep out Andriamanitsoro again after the forward had picked up the ball at the edge of the six yard box when the keeper punched a cross from the right to his path.

In the 25th minute, the pacy winger was at it again, this time breaking into the box off a counter, but Fredrick Nsabiyumva tracked back brilliantly for Burundi to shield away the striker with calls for a penalty falling in deaf ears.

Burundi’s only dangerous chance of the first half came in the 27th minute when Cedric Amissi broke into the box, but Madagascar defender Jerome Mombris made a decisive block to deny him an eye at goal.

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Off a counter, Madagascar should have been ahead two minutes to the break when skipper Faneva Andriatsima raced into the box, but once again, Omar Ng’ando raced back brilliantly to tackle the ball away from his path.

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