Madagascar survive penalties to progress to AFCON quarters

Madagascar players celebrates victory during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Last 16 match between Madagascar and DR Congo at the Alexandria Stadium, Alexandria on the 07 July 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Madagascar saw off a nervous penalty shoot-out to beat DR Congo 4-2 and progress to the quarter finals of the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 in their maiden attempt. Congo's star players Marcel Tosserand and Yannick Bolasie struck their penalties over the bar as Madagascar scored though Ibrahim Samuel Amada, Romain Metanire, Thomas Fontaine and Jerome Mombris.

The Leopards’ two penalties were scored through Cedric Bakambu and Paul Jose Mpoku.

The game was forced into penalties after Congo skipper Chancel Mbemba scored a thumping header a minute to full time taking the scores to 2-2 at full time and the added 30 minutes. Bakambu had cancelled out Amada's early goal before skipper Faneva Andriatsima scored their second 14 minutes to time.

Madagascar fans during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Last 16 match between Madagascar and DR Congo at the Alexandria Stadium, Alexandria on the 07 July 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Madagascar started the game with the confidence and arrogance on the field that had seen them finish the group phases top of Pool B ahead of the seasoned Nigeria and Guinea. Anicent Andrianantenaina was pulling the strings in midfield dictating the tempo of the game.

For their good start, they were rewarded in the eight minute of the game when Amada struck a beauty of a curler from the edge of the box after being set up by Lalaina Nomenjanahary.

Just before that, the islanders had threatened with Carolus Andriamahitsinoro’s freekick being spilled by Congolese keeper Ley Matampi and was only saved by the referee’s whistle which ruled skipper Faneva to have fouled him as he jumped on the rebound.

But Congo gradually grew into the game, definitely jolted into action after going down.

They got into level terms after 20 minutes, punishing Madagascar for some sloppy loss of possession on the left. Ngonda Muzinga picked the ball on the left, drove forward and curled in a beautiful cross which Bakambu ably nodded home.

DR Congo were almost getting into the lead on the half hour mark, but Chancel Mbemba skied his volley from close range after Jacques Magoma had floated in a cross from the left.

In the second half, Congo started off with making changes, Meshack Elia coming on for Wilfried Moke as coach Flrent Ibenge sought to inject some pace in attack.

It was Madagascar though who came close to a goal when Jerome Mombris drifted in from his left back role and sliced a shot from the edge which the keeper saved.

On the other end, Pascal Razakanantenaina made a massive intervention stopping the ball a yard from the line after Bakambu had gone round the keeper to tap home.

The hard fighting Madagascar kept their chase on and scored their second after 76 through their skipper who dove in at the back post to head in a cross from Romain Metanire after Congo lost the ball cheaply on the right.

But, Congo kept their composure and concentration, earning an equalizer in the 89th minute through Mbemba’s thumping header at the back post off an Elia corner to send the game into extra time.

In extra time, it was Congo who had the clearest opportunities to score, first Muzinga’s shot from the edge of the box being deflected over for a corner while minutes later, Mbemba came close to his second but his header off another Elia corner was well saved by Madagascar keeper Melvin Adrien.

With four minutes left, Bolasie came inches close but his curling short from the right went just wide off target.

Martin Rakotoarimalala and the experienced Jeremy Morel were brought in by Madagascar to add some steep into the tiring legs and they did just enough to see the game off to penalties.

In the shootout Amada, Metanire, Mombris and Fontaine scored for Madagascar, while Marcel Tisserancd and Yannick Bolasie missed for DR Congo.

What they said:

Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis:

It is a great day for us. We kept believing and we got a just reward at the end of the game. It was a very tough match today against an experienced Congo side. We gave our best and seeing us continue making history is a beautiful thing. Hope we can continue in this way

Madagascar midfielder Anicet Andrianantenaina (man of the match)

We are a team which plays like a family. We fight together and we win together. It was tough especially after Congo equalized late. But we saw our fans and the President of Madagascar in the crown and we had to do something. I am happy we are through. This is history and we cannot hide the excitement.

DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge:

I want to congratulate Madagascar for going through. They are a good team and have showed this throughout the competition. Today, we did our best but our best was not good enough. We lost to a better team and I wish them all the best.