Madagascar becomes first team to qualify for AFCON 2019

Madagascar’s national football team has become the first team to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after beating Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in Malabo, and will appear in the competition for the first time ever.

Thailand-based midfielder Njiva Rakotoharimalala scored the sole goal in the 42nd minute, with the Nzalang Nacional hanging on to book their ticket to next year’s continental competition.

The win puts Madagascar on 10 points in Group A, three more than second placed Senegal who are scheduled to play Sudan later on Tuesday, seeking to join the islanders in the competition scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon.

The 2019 AFCON will be the first edition of the competition that will feature 24 teams, expanded from 16.

There are two more qualifying rounds to play, one in November and the last in March 2019.

The 2019 competition will also be the first played in June. Initially, AFCON was played in January-February, but the Confederation of African Football last year voted to push it to June, when major leagues worldwide are shut.