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Mauritania has defied all odds to qualify for the 2014 CHAN tournament.
This feat is Mauritania first-ever qualification to a major international football tournament since the ex-French colony's' independence in 1960
Mauritania’s success has been credited to Frenchman and ex-Guinea and DR Congo coach Patrice Neveu who has been in charge of the team since 2012.
In the qualifiers, Mauritania has only lost one out of their four qualifying games en route to South Africa.
That loss came at the hands of Senegal who beat them 1-0 in the final round first leg on July 6.
However, Mauritania overturned that result in the home leg to shock the 2009 CHAN semifinalist 2-0 to qualify 2-1 on aggregate.
Meanwhile, Mauritania's success has attracted interest for its unknown talent.
One of the biggest losses has been influential attacking midfielder Ismael Diakite who signed with Tunisian club Club Sportif de Hammam Lif.
And with the local exodus set to continue following Mauritanians sudden rise, Neveu will be keeping his fingers cross on how many of his golden generation will make the flight to Johannesburg in January.
Surprisingly, Mauritania managed to punch above their weight despite an early exit from the competition following three consecutive defeats.
The Mourabitounes battled Burundi, Gabon and the 2009 champions, DR Congo, in Group D going toe-to-toe with all three opponents but just lacked that big tournament temperament.
Mauritania managed to hold The Leopards during the first 45 minutes of their opening group game, only to collapse after the break after conceding a penalty which proved enough for the Congolese to cash in on the three points.
And in their second game against Burundi, they were locked at 2-2 after 90 minutes and were just seconds from picking up a famous first point in a major international competition.
However, it was not to be as Patrice Neveu’s squad suffered a last second blow with a 93rd minute wonder goal by Selemani Ndikumana.
More frustration followed in their final game against Gabon in which they led twice but an extra-time brace by Panthers’ Bonaventure Sokambi left Mauritania again with nothing to show for their robust performances.
“Mauritania were always willing to move forward. They lost all their matches because they struggled to finish them, but they could have well settled for three draws,” said new Congo head coach and African football specialist Claude Leroy.
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