Madagascar’s coach Romuald Felix believes his team ‘can go all the way’ to the final of the 2022 TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN).
The Barea defeated Mozambique 3-1 in their first-ever quarter-final at the Mohamed Hamlaoui Stadium in Constantine on Saturday to book a semi-final clash with Senegal.
Koloina Razafindranaivo, Jean Razafindrakoto and Marcio Ravelomanantsoa were all on target for the Barea, who has quickly shifted from underdog status and now look like title contenders.
“We came here as underdogs. But my players have worked hard and changed our status. I can’t believe it. Congratulations to my players,” said Felix.
The gaffer further revealed all was not rosy on the night Madagascar’s local championship was on display in the contest of 18 nations showcasing their domestic championship.
“In the beginning, my players had feared. However, we adjusted and quickly adapted. That’s why I am so satisfied. But in all honesty, I didn’t envisage we will be in the semis.
With eight goals scored and just three conceded, Madagascar is making a big statement going into the semi-final. There is a growing belief within the team and some suggest they can challenge for the trophy.
“In the beginning, we wanted to just qualify from the group. Now we are in the semis, two games left. We believe this team can do it. Go all the way… A semi-final is never easy.
“Senegal is a good team, they are African champions. We have a lot of respect for Senegal. That said, I believe they are beatable and we will go into that game with belief,” Romuald added.
It is the first time in Malagasy football history that a national team has reached this stage of any continental event.
Their best-ever performance was reaching the quarter-final of the 2019 TotalEnergies African Nations Cup (AFCON) in Egypt. Romuald is drawing inspiration from that team that eliminated 2004 champions Tunisia.
“In 2019 we were ambitious. We already won against Ghana. We are in the semis. We focus on Senegal, knowing it will be very difficult but we keep working on it,” Romuald concluded.
Madagascar will take on Senegal in the semi-final on Tuesday, January 31, at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers, with kick-off at 1900 GMT.