It took 120 minutes of sweat and blood but Madagascar are through to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations at their first attempt.
It is the first time a team debuting at the Afcon remain unbeaten in their first four games at the championship since Libya in 1982.
This was Madagascar’s first ever African Cup of Nations knockout round match but they were forced into extra time by Congo DR at the Alexandria Stadium.
The Leopards and the Barea were locked in a 2 – 2 draw after regulation time and penalty kicks were needed to separate the two after neither side could produce a winner during extra time.
Ibrahim Amada fired the debutants into a 9th minute lead, unleashing a rocket into the top corner to finish a great team move.
It could easily end up being the goal of the tournament. It was that beautiful.
But DR Congo were soon back in the game. In the 21st minute, Cedric Bakambu popped in the right place to draw the Leopards back on level terms with a close range strike. It was his third goal at this year’s finals.
The Indian Ocean nation shocked 3-times champion with a 2-0 win to finish top of Group B.
Yet again, against another illustrious opponent, the Malagasy played without fear but with a lot of flair and it came as no surprise when they restored their lead in the 77th minute.
This time it was Favena Andriatsima who powered home a brilliant header off an equally fine cross.
But the drama was far from over.
With only seconds left of regulation time, reprief came the way of the Cemtral Africans. A towering header from Chancel Mbemba restored parity one more time and sent the match into extra time.
The score board still read 2 – 2 after extra time and it was straight to spot kicks. The Congolese were found wanting, missing two of their kicks, to send Madagascar into their first ever quarterfinals, into rapturous jubilation and into the record books.