Madagascar's players celebrate their win during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Madagascar and DR Congo at the Alexandria Stadium in the Egyptian city on July 7, 2019.
CAIRO - Madagascar will become the first Africa Cup of Nations debutants in 23 years to reach the semi-finals if they defeat Tunisia in a last-eight match in Cairo on Thursday.
The last team to achieve the feat, South Africa, went on to win the 1996 tournament by defeating Tunisia 2-0 in the final in Soweto.
Here are 10 things to know about the Indian Ocean island team that shocked three-time champions Nigeria 2-0 in the group stage.
- They are relatively old with eight of the 23-man squad 30 or over and there are no teenagers. Defender Jeremy Morel, 35, is the oldest and midfielder Rayan Raveloson, 22, the youngest.
- The players are with clubs in France (10), Reunion (three), Algeria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand and the United States (one each) plus two locals.
- Goalkeeper Jean Randrianasolo from champions CNaPS Sport and midfielder Jean Rakotoarisoa of Fosa Juniors are the pair who play on the vast island.
- Malagasys have the longest surnames in African football, and the list is topped by Saudi Arabia-based forward Charles Andriamahitsinoro with 17 letters.
- The captain is forward Faneva Andriatsima, a 35-year-old who plays for French second-tier outfit Clermont Foot.
- They are ranked 108 in the world with the Faroe Islands one place higher and Zimbabwe next in the list. Quarter-final opponents Tunisia are ranked 25th.
- The team nickname is Barea, prized cattle with long horns who signify wealth in one of the poorest countries in the world.
- Madagascar play at the rudimentary Stade Mahamasina, a 22,000-capacity ground in the capital, Antananarivo, used predominantly for football and rugby union fixtures.
- The closest the Barea previously came to qualifying was for the 1984 finals in the Ivory Coast -- they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Malawi in a final round eliminator.
- Despite starring in Egypt, Madagascar are only among the third seeds for the 2021 Cup of Nations qualifying draw to be made next Thursday in Cairo.