By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (January 23rd 2023)
Group C of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) was dominated by the absence of one of the teams. The defending champions Morocco had been looking to win an historic third consecutive title but politics intervened. Morocco’s request to fly directly to Constantine on their national airline, Royal Air Maroc (RAM) was submitted in December, but despite assurances of a favourable outcome, confirmation was not forthcoming, so the defending champions withdrew.
That left the group reduced to three teams, Ghana, Madagascar and Sudan, although CAF announced that two teams from the group would qualify, It began on January 15th with Ghana suffering a shock 2-1 defeat to Madagascar. Rhino Randriamanjaka gave the Malagasy the lead after 27 minutes. Ghana equalised after 39 minutes through Daniel Darkwah, but Jimmy Simouri gave Rakotondrabe Romuald’s team a famous win on 90 minutes.
Four days later Ghana made amends with a 3-1 win against Sudan. Al-Jezoli Nouah gave Sudan the lead after 31 minutes, but Konadu Yiadom equalised in added time at the end of the first half. After 64 minutes Daniel Afriye’s penalty gave Ghana the lead. He was sent off after 7 minutes of added time in the second half, but the man advantage worked against Sudan as they conceded a third a minute later, scored by Seidu Suraj.
The peculiarities of the group meant that if Madagascar avoided defeat they would top the group followed by Ghana – both of whom would qualify, but Sudan would have to win by two goals, which would eliminate Madagascar.
The final match in the group was moved from Oran to Constantine, but it was all but over after little more than half an hour. Tokinantenaina Randriatsiferana opened the scoring after 13 minutes. Solomampionona Razafindranaivo dounbled Madagascar’s lead after half an hour and three minutes later Lalaina Rafanomezantsoa.
Romuald, dubbed the Mourinho of Africa, had steered his charges to an historic first qualification for his country at the African Nations Championship.