Football

Madagascar coach cherishes ‘dream’ upset of Nigeria

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Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis is doused in water after an upset of African giants Nigeria

Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis hailed his team’s shock 2-0 Africa Cup of Nations victory over continental giants Nigeria that secured a place in the knockout rounds as a “dream” for the nation.

Goals from Lalaina Nomenjanahary and Charles Andriamatsinoro in Alexandria earned the Indian Ocean islanders a famous victory and saw Madagascar pip three-time winners Nigeria to top spot in Group B.

“I have to thank the players who made me proud and the people of Madagascar proud. It’s a real achievement for us,” said Frenchman Dupuis, who combines his role with a job at a lower-league club in his homeland.

“When I saw the group we were given we all put Nigeria as favourites. Nigeria are still a strong favourite for the tournament.”

Madagascar will face one of four best third-place finishers in the last 16 after becoming the first newcomers since Cape Verde in 2013 to survive the group stage.

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“I find that the players are more and more concentrated,” said Dupuis. “But I have always played the same players and that’s going to be a major problem now.

“We’re going to have 10 of them resting at training. The main problem is that Marco (Ilaimaharitra) received a second yellow card and won’t be able to play in the next match.”

He added: “I really wanted to make the Madagascar people dream and we did but it came at a bit of a cost with all the effort we put in.”

Nigeria counterpart Gernot Rohr said he believed Madagascar were capable of creating further surprises, remarkable for a team that needed to come through a preliminary round just to reach the qualifying competition.

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“You (Madagascar) can go very far now. You beat us, you beat Burundi, a team that’s not easy to beat. Anything can happen in knockout games. I think you’re capable of doing this again.”

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