***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about 7 moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Madagascar, which is yet to qualify for a World Cup.
FirenenanosybaolinakitramalazanomenaanaranahoeIslandyan’iAfrikaankoatranyhoeavoeninahenynyhabenymanana74henynyisan’nymponinaarymikorontanabe (Honourable island soccer nation that’s been dubbed the Iceland of Africa, aside from the fact that that it’s six times bigger, has 74 times the population and is much shitter)
FIFA Ranking: 102 (Mar 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Failed to advance from second round (CAF), finishing bottom of Group J behind DR Congo, Benin and Tanzania
Prior to 2019, much like Iceland’s before 2016, Madagascar’s national soccer team had fallen short in every qualifying tournament they took part in. Having never qualified for a World Cup or an Africa Cup of Nations, Barea had little to show for their footballing journeys other than a third place finish in the 2015 COSAFA Cup and twice winning something called the Indian Ocean Island Games. And then, in March 2019, remarkably, they managed to qualify for the newly expanded 24-team AFCON in Egypt to be held three months later.
Madagascar’s heroic, giant-killing exploits at the tournament earned them the moniker ‘The Iceland of Africa”, referring to that nation’s remarkable journey through to the quarter finals of UEFA Euro 2016. And the two did in fact share some common ground–both had never qualified for a major international tournament, they both claimed the scalps of recognised soccer nations on their march through their respective tournaments, and they both ultimately fell at the quarter final stage. But get those similarities out of your brain tank pronto, because that’s where the similarities end, once and for all.
At Euro 2016, on their romp to the round of 8, Iceland toppled the might of the then 10th ranked Austria, the then 11th ranked England, drew with the then 8th ranked (and eventual winner) Portugal, and were only eliminated by France (while still putting two past them still, mind you), who were just two years away from becoming World Champions. On the flip side, at AFCON 2019, okay, Madagascar did beat Nigeria, but the Super Eagles had by then fallen to 45th in the world and had long been but a shadow of their former high-flying selves. And Madagascar did also bundle out the then 49th ranked DR Congo, but the victory only came in the lottery of penalties. Putting those results aside, Madagascar’s “fairytale” run consisted of a draw with the then 71st ranked Guinea, a narrow 1-0 defeat of the 134th ranked AFCON debutantes Burundi and finally, a comprehensive elimination at the hands of Tunisia in the quarters. So in a nutshell, Iceland went undefeated against 2 top-ten nations (winning one of them) while Madagascar just barely fell over the line against Burundi. And no offence, Burundi, but c’mon, ffs it’s Burundi.
‘The Iceland of Africa”, my ass. Not only is comparing the two like comparing milk and exhaust pipes, Iceland even went on to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, defeating two-time finalist The Netherlands both home and away along the way in qualifying, and drawing with Argentina at the Finals. C’mon man. You ain’t seein’ no “fake Iceland” Madagascar at the World Cup, are ya? And the Viking Clap that’s the signature of the fans of Strákarnir okkar, became a worldwide phenomenon. You don’t see fans in soccer stadiums around the world doing the Lemur shuffle or Zebu salute to this day. Madagascar better check itself before it wrecks itself.
One to watch: The stunning biodiversity
Popularised in the Dreamworks animation film of the same name, Madagascar is classified by the UN’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre as one of the world’s ‘megadiverse’ nations, meaning it has a ‘very high’ level of biodiversity, containing an array of flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. And although there are a total of 17 megadiverse nations, each with their own wealth of natural wild wonders, nothing compares to Madagascar’s mix of disease-ridden livestock, fatal water-borne bacteria, and a polluted and unhygienic local environment that just has to be seen to be believed.
The Highpoint: Quarter finalists, 2019 Africa Cup of Nations
Okay, so this actually was pretty good. Good on you, Madagascar. You go, girls.
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!
AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS IVORY COAST 2023 | GROUP STAGE
1 June 2022
GHANA 🇬🇭 x 🇲🇬 MADAGASCAR
5 June 2022
MADAGASCAR 🇲🇬 x 🇦🇴 ANGOLA
19 Sep 2022
MADAGASCAR 🇲🇬 x 🇨🇫 CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC