The Mena of Niger and Berea of Madagascar will clash in the third place play-off game of the 2022 TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN).
In most competitions, this fixture has always been a meeting of disappointed players who step into the pitch with regrets about their run in the competition.
However, at the 7th edition of the tournament for players affiliated to clubs in their national championships, there will be an exception.
Niger and Madagascar players have been far from dissappointing at this CHAN tournament, in Algeria.
Both nations punched above their weight and reached the semi-final for the first time. Interestingly for Madagascar, it is their maiden appearance in the tournament.
The Malagasy team guided by coach Romuald Felix has had scintillating run.
Winning a CHAN Group with regulars Sudan and Ghana wasn’t predictable to many before the start of the competition. However, the Berea did it just that. Victories against Ghana and Sudan meant Madagascar finished top of the group.
Madagascar ended Mozambique’s fairytale ride in the quarter-final to book a rare semi-final spot for a debutant.
Unfortunately, the Malagasy dreams ended after a tough battle against Senegal ended 1-0 in favor of the resilient Teranga Lions.
Madagascar’s story in the tournament in Algeria isn’t any different to that of Niger. The side dominated by players from US Douane, AS Police and US Gendarmerie have enjoyed a memorable ride in the competition.
A 5-0 defeat to the hosts Algeria in the semi-final can be seen as a dark cloud in a silver lining.
Harouna Doula Gabde’s team squeezed out of a Group that had Cameroon and Congo, before humbling Ghana in the last eight – a run during which they didn’t concede a goal.
At full-time in the 2-0 win against the Black Galaxies of Ghana, Niger achieved their best ride in the CHAN.
Inking their names on the golden books of the country’s football after going a step ahead of the 2011 quarter-finalist.
Coach Romuald Felix
Coach Romuald Felix will certainly return to his country as a more popular face. Even the CAF technical study group recognized his efforts. He was named the best coach of the group stage.
Under the guidance of the astute trainer, the Berea have brandished admirable football. Even after the defeat against Senegal, Romuald received a standing ovation from the Media during his post-match media commitments.
Coach Harouna Doula
The retired Niger international inspired his country to a great run in this edition of the competition.
Eliminating 2020 semi-finalist Cameroon and runners-up in 2014 Ghana wasn’t a given, but the 57-year-old achieved that.
However, Doula didn’t come to Algeria as an unknown quantity. He helped his country qualify for their first CHAN tournament in 2011 and maiden AFCON a year later.
This CHAN has certainly enhanced his reputation as one of the best football technician Niger ever produced.
The supersub scored Niger’s crucial winner against Cameroon that took his nation through to a second quarter-final in the history of the CHAN.
Fellow forwards Imarana Seyni, Boubacar Haïnikoye and full-back Ismael Souley have all been crucial to their country’s achievements in Algeria.
The CFF Andoharanofotsy forward has seen his stock rise during this tournament. His three goals in four games has completely changed his reputation in Madagascar and beyond.
He scored twice for Madagascar in the group stage. His goals have been telling for his country’s so far.
Whatever happens between Madagascar and Niger at the Miloud Hadefi stadium this Friday, the two teams will go home to a rousing reception.
The clash of the CHAN 2022 great achievers kick-off at 1900 GMT.
Both trainers expressed their desire to end the tournament on a high during the pre-match conference this Thursday.
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