More than a Hollywood movie! Madagascar’s magical AFCON

first_imgAsk anybody about Madagascar and chances are the first thing that springs to mind is the animated movie of the same name from 2005.However, over the past few weeks, the island nation with a population just shy of 25 million is writing its own blockbuster script as they produce a stunning Africa Cup of Nations campaign. Competing at the tournament for the first time and ranked 108th in world when they arrived in Egypt, Madagascar flew right under the radar at the outset, with even their coach conceding they shouldn’t have stood any chance.  Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare “All teams are better on paper than us,” Nicolas Dupuis told AFP.  “We don’t have any stars in our team. The star is the team.”We have a real team of friends but also with talented players, who are very good but perhaps not stars.”Dupuis is no high-profile coach himself, currently juggling a role as the technical director of FC Fleury 91, a club which competes in the fourth-tier of French football.But despite the odds being stacked against them, Madagascar have excelled to set up a quarter-final match against Tunisia on Thursday. Madagascar, also known as the Barea, are undefeated across their first four matches at the Africa Cup of Nations – a feat not achieved since Libya in 1982 for a nation making their debut at the tournament. Dupuis’ side has so far picked up one draw and three wins, with their biggest result seeing them upset Nigeria 2-0 in their final group match. Three-time AFCON winners Nigeria were ranked 63 places higher than Madagascar just a month ago but had no answers for their plucky opponents.The Barea have proven particularly versatile in attack and have scored in all four of their matches to become the first side since Zambia in 1975 to strike in their first four appearances at the tournament. MadagascarDesperate to rewrite the country’s previously animated narrative, Madagascar’s players held their nerve in a Round of 16 clash against DR Congo, as they triumphed 4-2 on penalties after the game had finished 2-2. Tunisia now loom as their next opponent and Dupuis’ men must produce another upset worthy of Hollywood.Appearing in their 10th AFCON quarter-final and ranked 25th in the world, Tunisia will be strong favourites to progress but Madagascar has quickly proven they aren’t a side to be written off.Tunisia’s form has, in fact, paled in comparison to the Barea’s, with Alain Giresse’s side drawing three of their four games and only beating Ghana on penalties in the Round of 16. Ranked as low as 190th in the world five years ago, win or lose on Thursday, Madagascar have certainly come a long way in a short space of time. Having failed to win a game in 2017 AFCON qualifying, Dupuis is desperate to instigate a radical overview of football development in a country where the beautiful game has previously hidden away. “I’m raising the alarm because the national team is the tree that hides in the forest,” he said.”There is nothing being done from a technical standpoint at the national level, there’s no work in terms of youth and it’s serious. “If we don’t question everything, if we don’t get back to work, in two years, there will be no more team and in four, even less so. It would be a shame because there’s a real breeding ground and it’s quite an old team.”My role is to sound the alarm and tell officials there are lots of things in need of change in Madagascar.”MadagascarMadagascar fans celebrate AFCONMadagascar fans celebrate AFCONConsidering how his side have performed in Egypt to date, it’s safe to say Dupuis has well and truly got sirens ringing across Madagascar. “We’re not too aware of what we’re doing, except when we get sent photos from Madagascar, where it’s madness right now,” Dupuis said. “We’re trying to live in the moment as best as possible because these moments are rare. It’s in these rare moments when you realise that we have the best job in the world.”Midfielder Anicet Abel got the ball rolling for Madagascar in Egypt, scoring his nation’s first ever goal at AFCON in their opening game against Guinea which ended 2-2. The 29-year-old, who plays club football in Bulgaria, is all too aware that his side were perhaps rightly seen as underdogs heading into the tournament. “When we came here at the beginning of the tournament, nobody took us seriously but we believed in ourselves,” Abel told Reuters.”Of course, they underestimated us and I understand them – Madagascar is not famous in football; I think Madagascar is only famous for the movie.”A perception Abel and his team are quickly rewriting as they produce a football fairytale DreamWorks themselves would be proud of.last_img read more

EHF and INFRONT Record year for EHF EURO events

← Previous Story Oliver Roggisch stays in Rhein Neckar Lowen Next Story → FTC VS Gyor – No losers, but someone falls down (VIDEO) ehf euro events The European Handball Federation (EHF) and Infront Sports & Media, the federation’s exclusive marketing and media partner for the EHF EURO events, have announced a new record level of television coverage of the Men’s and Women’s EHF European Championships, both held in venues across Serbia.A total cumulative television audience of 1.85 billion followed the EHF’s flagship events in 2012, which were transmitted by 75 licensed broadcasters into more than 200 countries and territories. The coverage of the biennial events increased by 35 percent compared to the 2010 figure when Austria and Denmark/Norway played host and were watched by an audience of 1.37 billion. An upward trend was also registered in broadcast time, with 3,060 hours achieved, compared to 2,670 in 2010, an increase of 15 percent.Women’s event highlights a clear upward trendThe recently completed media evaluation of the Women’s EHF EURO, which took place from 4 to 16 December 2012, clearly demonstrated the global reach of the women’s event. The total broadcast coverage reached 1,161 hours, amounting to an increase of over 20 percent compared to 2010. Overall, a cumulative audience of 380 million was reached, compared to 335 million during the last edition of the event. There were also positive figures in markets including Norway, where the matches of the five-time European champions reached a 50 percent market share, and in Serbia, where up to two million people tuned in per match to follow the success of the host nation in reaching the semi-finals.Jean Brihault, EHF President, said: “The EHF EURO events continue to deliver exactly what sports fans want: action, drama and excitement, brought to them by the world’s top players and teams, through a high-quality HD television production. I am delighted with the growth in the TV audience and the coverage of the EHF top men’s and women’s events, media figures which provide further evidence of handball’s strong position on the sports market.”Stephan Herth, Executive Director Summer Sports at Infront, said: “The record audience figures for the EHF EURO events in 2012 underline the event’s position as top-tier indoor sports communication platform. First class handball produced to the highest quality broadcast standards remains sought after by both broadcasters and sports fans in Europe and beyond. Together with the EHF we will continue to further raise the appeal and impact of the EHF’s top events.”Positive online developmentsInvestments made to upgrade and further expand the online offerings for fans around the event are also proving valuable. The official EHF EURO YouTube channel registered 370,000 views, leading to 37,400 hours of video content viewed through the platform. In addition, the official EHF EURO website gauged 277,000 unique visitors and over four million page views during the event.Whilst the men’s event in January broke all records in terms of the onsite spectator numbers with over 300,000 fans following the action live, the Women’s EHF EURO 2012 in December also set a new match record with the semi-final clash between the hosts and Montenegro watched by 13,598 people, beating the previous record of 11,411 set during the EHF EURO 2010 semi-final in Herning, Denmark. The event was followed by the media worldwide with approximately 450 journalists and photographers accredited for the event and an overall total of 800 media representatives, with the host broadcaster included. article: EHF read more