AFCON debutants Madagascar hold Guinea to 2-2 draw

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Madagascar's forward Charles Andriamahitsinoro celebrates his goal, his team's second, during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Guinea and Madagascar at Alexandria Stadium on June 22, 2019. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Guinea’s midfielder Ibrahima Cisse (R) vies for the ball with Madagascar’s midfielder Anicet Andrianantenaina during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Guinea and Madagascar at Alexandria Stadium on June 22, 2019. (Photo credit GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Madagascar drew 2-2 against Guinea in their opening Group B game of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations at Alexandria Stadium in Alexandria on Saturday.

The Indian Ocean islanders are one of three teams making their debut at the continental showpiece which has been expanded to include 24 teams.

Guinea started the match without Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, who is yet to fully recover from a thigh injury that ruled him out of the Champions League final against Tottenham.

Guinea nearly went ahead on 26 minutes when a header by Julian Jeanvier from a corner hit the woodwork.

Guinea took the lead after eight minutes later through Dijon striker Sory Kaba. Kaba beat the offside trap and expertly controlled the ball past goalkeeper Melvin Adrien to tap into an empty net.

Madagascar equalized three minutes into the second half when Anicet Andrianantenaina rose highest to head in the ball from Charles Andriamahitsinoro’s corner.

Andriamahitsinoro then gave Madagascar a shock lead six minutes later when he found himself onside and with space to fire past Guinean goalkeeper Aly Keita.

Guinea was then awarded a penalty on 64 minutes after captain Ibrahima Traore was fouled by Romain Metanire in the penalty box. Francois Kamano successfully converted the spot-kick to earn the West Africans a point.

The draw secured a first ever point at the tournament for Madagascar who will be aiming to be the first debutant since Cape Verde in 2013 to progress beyond the first round.

Madagascar lies 2nd in Group B ahead of Guinea while Nigeria lead the way on three points following a 1-0 win against another debutante, Burundi.

Madagascar will next play Burundi on Thursday while Guinea will play Nigeria the same day in Alexandria.

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