BERNAT LÓPEZ / ©XTREM FOOTBALL
After nearly 50 years of failures, Madagascar have qualified for the African Cup of Nations finals for the first time. The green warriors beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in Vontovorona. Thailand-based midfielder Njiva Rakotoharimalala, 26, scored the only goal. They became the first team to qualify for a place in the finals that have now been expanded from 16 teams to 24.
They were later joined by Egypt, Senegal and Tunisia in qualifying for the finals in Cameroon next June/July. Madagascar’s win moved them to 10 points in Group A with two matches left to play.
A background tragedy
There qualification process was rocked by a tragedy in the national stadium Mahamasina. A stampede of fans left at least one supporter dead and another 40 injured just before the game against Senegal.
As a result, the last game was played in Vontovorona after Madagascar were banned from using Mahamasina Stadium. The punishment was fixed for “three matches or three months”. Madagascar become the 40th different nation to qualify for the Nations Cup finals.
Despite the momentous moment in the country’s sporting history, everyone on social media was making the same joke… For those who aren’t fans of animated films, King Julian is a lemur character in the blockbuster franchise Madagascar.
King Julian XIII, to give him his full title, is the leader of a colony of lemurs on the island of Madagascar. He’s voiced by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. King Julian welcomes the main characters, namely zebra Marty, lion Alex, a giraffe called Melman, Gloria the hippo and a cast of cheeky penguins. They all escaped from a zoo in New York, and travelled to the island.
The film also features the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Friends star David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and Cedric the Entertainer. None of which will be playing for Madagascar next summer!