Madagascar shock Nigeria to extend Cup of Nations fairytale

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.

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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.