Madagascar booked a place at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament for the first time after defeating visiting Equatorial Guinea 1-0 on Tuesday.
The Malagasy also stole the march on some of the top sides in Africa by becoming the first country to qualify for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Cameroon.
A first-half strike by Njiva Rakotoharimalala was enough to secure the victory and secure their place in the tournament to be held in the Central African country.
Before Tuesday’s clash, Senegal and Madagascar had seven points each, Equatorial Guinea three and Sudan none halfway through their six-round qualifying group.
So the victory means Madagascar have ten points and cannot be caught by Equatorial Guinea and Sudan, sealing the Indian Ocean Islanders’ place in Africa’s flagship tournament for the first time.
Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal can also seal their place in Cameroon if they complete a double over Sudan by winning in Khartoum later in the day.
Frenchman Nicolas Dupuis coaches the team from the huge Indian Ocean island and has steadily transformed them from whipping boys to competitive opponents.
The form favoured the Malagasy as they edged their Group A opponents by a similar result four days ago thanks to an early goal from France-based Faneva Andriatsima.
He was among 10 foreign-based starters for Madagascar with defender Tobisoa Njakanirina from perennial domestic champions CNaPS Sport the exception.
Madagascar’s rising form was evident last month when they twice came from behind against 2018 World Cup qualifiers Senegal in Antananarivo to force a 2-2 draw.
The top-of-the-table clash was staged against the tragic backdrop of a pre-match stampede outside the national stadium which left one supporter dead and 41 injured.
A consequence was that Madagascar played Tuesday’s match away from the Mahamasina Stadium and faced the Equatoguineans in Vontovorona and their form did not wane and produced the much needed victory that sealed their place.