Madagascar progressed through to the next round of the 2015 Cosafa Cup when they played to a 1-1 draw against Swaziland in their final Group B. Match held at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Friday evening.
Goals in each half by Rinho Randriamanjaka and Sabelo Ndzinisa ensured both sides shared the spoils with the Malagasy booking their spot in the quarter-final against the Black Stars of Ghana on Sunday.
Although both sides came to the match with two wins apiece, the match had to see Swazis winning for them to progress through to the last eight.
However, it was the Islanders who took the game to the Swazis and their efforts were rewarded as early as the seventh minute when Sifiso Mabila was adjudged to have fouled attacker Dina Razanakoto and the referee had no choice but to point to the penalty spot.
Randriamanjaka converted beating Mphikeleli Dlamini who made a touch on the ball.
The Harris Bulunga-coached side made strides in moving forward trying to find an equaliser but the Islanders packed their own half waiting to catch the Isihlangu Somnikati on the counter attack.
Towards the 30-minute mark Bulunga’s men managed to exploit the spaces in the middle of the park and their experienced skipper, Tony Tsabebze nearly beat the goalkeeper as he was not anticipating the shot, however, his effort sailed over the posts.
Both sides went to the tunnel with the Malagasy enjoying the lead and in the second half, Isihlangu pushed forward trying to utilise their pace but the opposition defence stood on their toes.
Just after the 66th minute, the Swazis knew that time was running against them and they resorted to long balls which somehow destroyed their shape and game plan to the advantage of the speedy Malagasy defence.
In the 69th minute, Swaziland protested for what looked like a penalty when a Madagascar defender handled the ball in the area and the referee gave a foul against the Swazis.
In the 79th minute, Ndzinisa converted from a beautiful cross down the right flank following a beautiful counter attack to equalise, however, the search continued for the second goal.
With three minutes left on the scoreboard, Swaziland tried all they could but goalkeeper Diedonne denied them on a number of occasions.