- Madagascar have reached their highest position in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking since 2002
- Their best-ever position, achieved in 1993, was 89th
- Since the beginning of 2017, the Malagasy have recorded four wins in a row in competitive matches
This year has been one to remember so far for Madagascar. The Barea have racked up four consecutive victories and qualified for the group stage of the 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, during which they will face Senegal, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea.
To accomplish this, they defeated Sao Tome e Principe home (3-2) and away (1-0) in the preliminary round of Cameroon 2019 qualifying. In addition, they overcame Malawi over two legs (1-0; 1-0) in the first round of qualifiers for the CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN), which is scheduled to take place in Kenya in 2018.
These four positive results saw Madagascar rise nine places to 111th in the May edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, their loftiest position since 2002, when they climbed to 101st. The Africans’ best-ever placing (89th) dates back to 1993.
Newly installed coach Nicolas Dupuis, the man behind this fine run, has become something of a hero on the island since masterminding the two-legged triumph over Sao Tome e Principe in March.
“I first arrived in Madagascar in March 2016,” recalled the Frenchman. “For the first few days, Lionel Charbonnier showed me around and I discovered a very welcoming country and some talented players. For 11 months, I stayed in contact with the players and officials. I followed how the clubs were doing, and some players who earn their living abroad.
“And when the President of the Malagasy Football Federation, Ahmad Ahmad, offered me the job, I accepted without a moment’s hesitation. Fans here have waited many years to celebrate the national team’s performances. I need to pay tribute to the Federation President, the supporters, the players and all of the Malagasy people.”
One eye on Cameroon and another on Kenya
Madagascar will kick off their Group A qualifiers for Cameroon 2019 with a June trip to Sudan, where they will be hopeful of making a solid start. Subsequently, all eyes will turn to another qualifying campaign, this time for the 2018 African Nations Championship in Kenya, the second round of which sees the Malagasy face Mozambique over two legs in July.
24 – The number of places that Madagascar have risen in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking since the beginning of 2017.
Reaching the Cup of Nations in 2019 will be no easy task, with Aliou Cisse’s Senegal, propelled by the irresistible Sadio Mane, looking like a particularly tough obstacle to overcome.
Nevertheless, the three second-placed teams with the best records will join the 12 group winners and hosts Cameroon (who will also be taking part in the qualifiers) at the tournament, which increases Madagascar’s chances of taking part in the Cup of Nations proper for the first time in their history.
The team’s immediate challenge, however, is to defeat Sudan in June and Mozambique in July. A continuation of their winning streak could see them break into the top 100 of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking for the first time in almost a quarter of a century.