Madagascar squeezed into the quarterfinals of the COSAFA Cup 2015 by the slenderest of margins after they played to a 1-1 draw with Swaziland at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Friday.
The two sides finished level on seven points at the top of the Group B standings, but Madagascar advance having scored one more goal than their opponents in the competition.
For Swaziland it will be a case of ruing missed chances in all three matches they played, but they can also be proud of a superb showing at the regional championship.
Madagascar now advance to meet west African guest nation Ghana in the quarterfinals on Monday at the same venue (kick-off 17h00).
The islanders took the lead early in the first half as Swaziland’s Sifiso Mabila was adjudged to have fouled Dina Razanakoto in the area and Rinho Randriamanjaka scored his second goal of the tournament from the spot.
The match ebbed and flowed from one side to the other after that and Swaziland, needing a win to advance, gave themselves a lifeline when substitute Sabelo Ndzinisa netted with 15 minutes remaining.
That set up a grandstand finish and Swaziland could not force the ball home from a number of good chances.
Lesotho defeated Tanzania 1-0 to avoid the wooden spoon in a game where pride was very much a stake.
It battled to get going as a contest, but Lesotho grabbed the winner when Jeremea Kamela scored with six minutes remaining.
Saturday will be a rest day at the tournament, with the quarterfinals commencing on Sunday when defending champions Zambia take on Namibia at the Moruleng Stadium (kick-off 15h00), and hosts South Africa battle with Botswana at the same venue later on (kick-off 17h30).
Madagascar 1 (Randriamanjaka 9’) Swaziland 1 (Ndzinisa 79’)
Lesotho 1 (Kamela 76’) Tanzania 0
Sunday – Zambia vs Namibia @ Moruleng Stadium (15h00 local, 13h00 GMT)
Sunday – South Africa vs Botswana @ Moruleng Stadium (17h30 local, 15h30 GMT)
Monday – Ghana vs Madagascar @ Royal Bafokeng Stadium (17h00 local, 15h00 GMT)
Monday – Mozambique vs Malawi @ Royal Bafokeng Stadium (19h30 local, 17h30 GMT)
Group A P W D L GF GA Pts
Namibia 3 2 1 0 6 1 7
Zimbabwe 3 2 0 1 4 4 6
Mauritius 3 1 0 2 1 4 3
Seychelles 3 0 1 2 0 2 1
Group B P W D L GF GA Pts
Madagascar 3 2 1 0 5 2 7
Swaziland 3 2 1 0 4 1 7
Lesotho 3 1 0 2 2 4 3
Tanzania 3 0 0 3 0 4 0
Matches Played: 12
Goals scored: 22
Biggest victory: Namibia 4 Zimbabwe 1 (Group A, May 21)
Most goals in a game: 5 – Namibia 4 Zimbabwe 1 (Group A, May 21)
2 goals – Deon Hotto (Namibia), Michel Randriamanjaka (Madagascar), Benson Shilongo (Namibia)
1 – Talent Chawaphiwa (Zimbabwe), Ronald Chitiyo (Zimbabwe), Chris Katjiukua (Namibia), Jeremea Kamela (Lesotho), Sifiso Mabila (Swaziland), Raphael Manuvire (Zimbabwe), Mthunzi Mkhontfo (Swaziland), Sabelo Ndzinisa (Swaziland), Lantonirina Rabehasinmbola (Madagascar), Martin Rakotoharimalala (Madagascar), Carlos Rusere (Zimbabwe), Xolani Sibandze (Swaziland), Jean-Pierre Sophie (Mauritius), Thapelo Tale (Lesotho), Sadney Urikhob (Namibia), Sarivahy Vombola (Madagascar)