Madagascar were held to a 1-1 draw by Seychelles in their 2018 Cosafa Cup Group B match at Seshego Stadium on Tuesday night.
The result sees Barea top of the standings on four points from two matches, with Mozambique (three points), Seychelles (two) and Comoros (one) completing the Group B log.
Madagascar dominated from the early minutes and enjoyed some great combination play going forward, with the likes of Dax, Jaotombo Bourah, Andriamanjato Toky and Lalaina Manampisoa looking particularly impressive.
Yet Barea endured plenty of frustration in the first quarter, with Seychelles goalkeeper Alvin Michel pulling off several excellent saves to keep his side on level terms.
The Pirates also looked sporadically dangerous on the counter, though gloves-man Jean Dieu Randrianasolo was not nearly as busy as his counterpart at the other end of the field.
However, on 24 minutes, Michel was finally beaten. Bourah latched onto a loose ball just outside the penalty area and his low, skidding drive found the bottom corner of the net to make it 1-0 in favour of the team clad in green and red.
Seychelles responded well to going behind and drew level on 34 minutes, with Mellie Eric showing his aerial power by scoring with a well-placed header. The match was locked at 1-1 heading into the half-time break.
The second half failed to produce the kind of scoring chances seen in the first, but it certainly didnt lack for drama.
Madagascar were lucky not to be reduced to 10 men when Toby’s sneaky elbow to the face of Jones Joubert wasn’t spotted by the officials, but Barea were punished for their indiscipline with just under a quarter hour of the game left.
Lalaina Manampisoa was put under pressure by the Pirates’ Kieren Sinon and responded with a head-butt. The Seychelles defender exaggerated the impact of the incident, but Manampisoa was still deservedly sent off.
Despite being a man down, Madagascar almost reclaimed the lead in the 81st minute when Ando directed a head on target from a corner kick, but Seychelles’ Gervey Saminadin cleared the ball off the goal line.
Seychelles endured a couple more scares, but ultimately held out for a second successive 1-1 draw and remain in contention for a quarterfinal place ahead of their final group game against Mozambique on Thursday, while Madagascar will back themselves to beat Comoros in a concurrent match and advance to face Zimbabwe in the final eight.
Seychelles (1) 1 (Eric 34’)
Madagascar (1) 1 (Bourah 24’)
Seychelles: 18 Alvin Michel, 3 Kieren Sinon, 4 Damien Maria, 5 Jones Joubert, 6 Benoit Marie, 7 Gervais Waye-Hive (R. Esther 70’), 12 Mellie Eric, 13 Colin Esther (Brioche 90+3’), 14 Karl Hall (Coraly 88’), 16 Gervey Saminadin, 19 Rachim Padayachy
Madagascar: 16 Jean Dieu Randrianasolo, 2 Johny Rafelambolasoa, 3 Andriamanjato Toky (Angelo 55’), 6 Jean Baggio, 7 Lalaina Manampisoa, 10 Dax, 14 Jean Claude Lolody (Nasandratra 55’), 15 Jaotombo Bourah, 18 Toby, 19 Ronald Rajaonarivelo, 20 Ando