AGAINST all odds, Madagascar have managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), providing the tournament with perhaps the unlikeliest of success stories.
The Indian Ocean Islanders have shown their potential and will not be underestimated heading into their last 8 clash against Tunisia at the Al Salam Stadium tonight (9pm).
The Berea, as Madagascar are affectionately known, will be eager to continue their fairy-tale run in this expanded edition of the continent’s biggest football showpiece.
And judging by the number of upsets they have already managed to pull off so far in the competition, a place in the semi-finals is not by any means beyond their reach.
However, standing in their way, is an undefeated Tunisian outfit so far in the biennial tournament.
The Eagles of Carthage are now one of the favourites to win the tournament after they eliminated four-time champions Ghana in the last 16.
They are determined to add to their solitary title, which came in 2004 on home soil.
“We are capable of lifting the trophy 15 years after doing so for the first time,” said Tunisia coach Alain Giresse.
The Berea, though, will approach the encounter with no fear, buoyed by their shock wins against Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo to reach the quarter-finals.
Saudi Arabia-based Carolous Andriamatsinoro and Razakanantenaina Pascal played pivotal roles in the Madagascar success so far, but the former has credited the whole team for a collective effort.
“The team is the star, sometimes, an individual will stand out when we need him to. That is our strength,” said Andriamahitsinoro.
In the other match tonight, Algeria and the Ivory Coast will lock horns in a titanic clash at the New Suez Stadium (6pm) to kick off the day’s action.
Between them, the two sides have three Afcon titles with the Elephants having won two while the Desert Foxes have only one.
“We have been saying for a while that we are here to achieve what nobody believes we can do, which is to win the tournament,” said Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi after their impressive 3-0 win over Guinea in the round of 16.