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.
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.
Charles Andriamatsinoro sealed the victory in front of CAF president and Madagascar native Ahmad Ahmad with a heavily deflected free-kick on 53 minutes for his second goal in three games in Egypt.
The Indian Ocean islanders had to come through a preliminary round just to reach the qualifying competition but will advance as winners of Group B ahead of Nigeria, with Guinea hoping to progress as one of four best third-place finishers following a 2-0 win over Burundi in Cairo.
Defeat for Nigeria likely sets up an eye-catching clash with either holders Cameroon or four-time winners Ghana in the next round, while Madagascar will take on a team that finishes third from either Group A, C or D.
“What happened was Madagascar were the better team today,” said Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr. “We started with a gift. We didn’t want to make a gift but this first goal was a wonderful gift for Madagascar and then we couldn’t find solutions.
“It’s not a shame to lose a match against such a team.”
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.
Burundi’s hopes suffered a huge blow when Christophe Nduwarugira was sent off on 12 minutes in the capital after a foul as last man, and Mohamed Yattara stepped up for Guinea with both goals to leave them facing a nervous wait for a spot in the last 16.
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