Madagascar saw off a nervous penalty shoot-out to beat DR Congo 4-2 and progress to the quarter-finals of the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 in their maiden attempt. Congo’s star players Marcel Tisserand and Yannick Bolasie struck their penalties over the bar as Madagascar scored through Ibrahim Samuel Amada, Romain Metanire, Thomas Fontaine and Jerome Mombris.
The Leopards’ two penalties were scored through Cedric Bakambu and Paul Jose Mpoku.
The game was forced into penalties after Congo skipper Chancel Mbemba scored a thumping header a minute to full time taking the scores to 2-2 at full time and the added 30 minutes. Bakambu had canceled out Amada’s early goal before skipper Faneva Andriatsima scored their second 14 minutes to time.
Madagascar started the game with the confidence and arrogance on the field that had seen them finish the group phases top of Pool B ahead of the seasoned Nigeria and Guinea. Anicet Andrianantenaina was pulling the strings in midfield dictating the tempo of the game.
For their good start, they were rewarded in the eight minute of the game when Amada struck a beauty of a curler from the edge of the box after being set up by Lalaina Nomenjanahary.
Just before that, the islanders had threatened with Carolus Andriamahitsinoro’s freekick being spilled by Congolese keeper Ley Matampi and was only saved by the referee’s whistle which ruled skipper Faneva to have fouled him as he jumped on the rebound.
But Congo gradually grew into the game, definitely jolted into action after going down.
They got into level terms after 20 minutes, punishing Madagascar for some sloppy loss of possession on the left. Ngonda Muzinga picked the ball on the left, drove forward and curled in a beautiful cross which Bakambu ably nodded home.
DR Congo was almost getting into the lead on the half-hour mark, but Chancel Mbemba skied his volley from close range after Jacques Magoma had floated in a cross from the left.
It was Madagascar though who came close to a goal when Jerome Mombris drifted in from his left-back role and sliced a shot from the edge which the keeper saved.
On the other end, Pascal Razakanantenaina made a massive intervention stopping the ball a yard from the line after Bakambu had gone round the keeper to tap home.
Hard-Fighting Madagascar kept their chase on and scored their second after 76 through their skipper who dove in at the back post to head in a cross from Romain Metanire after Congo lost the ball cheaply on the right.
But, Congo kept their composure and concentration, earning an equalizer in the 89th minute through Mbemba’s thumping header at the back post off an Elia corner to send the game into extra time.
In extra time, it was Congo who had the clearest opportunities to score, first Muzinga’s shot from the edge of the box being deflected over for a corner while minutes later, Mbemba came close to his second but his header off another Elia corner was well saved by Madagascar keeper Melvin Adrien.
With four minutes left, Bolasie came inches close but his curling shot from the right went just wide off target.
Martin Rakotoarimalala and the experienced Jeremy Morel were brought in by Madagascar to add some steep into the tiring legs and they did just enough to see the game off to penalties.
In the shootout, Amada, Metanire, Mombris, and Fontaine scored for Madagascar, while Marcel Tisserand and Yannick Bolasie missed for DR Congo.