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   Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 13:30 GMT
Madagascar get serious for 2004
Madagascar are hoping to reach their first finals
Madagascar's 100 percent start to their Africa Nations Cup campaign has given the islanders high hopes of a first-ever qualification to the final tournament.

That prospect has set the country's national federation scurrying about to set up a busy preparatory programme to turn the dream into a reality.

The Scorpions upset Egypt 1-0 in Antananarivo in their first group 10 encounter last September and then won another vital three points away in Mauritius the following month.

It leaves Egypt, who have qualified for the last ten tournaments, having to play catch-up and Malagasy officials are determined to not let the advantage slip.

The national side, coached by the Swiss Hans Heiniger, will go into a training camp on Friday in preparation for their next international, another meeting with Mauritius.

The countries meet in the opening match of this year's Cosafa Castle Cup, the annual southern African championship.

Madagascar host the game at the Mahamasina stadium on 22 February and then travel to Libya for two friendly matches.

The Indian Ocean islanders have also invited Algeria for a friendly in March, although there has been no confirmation from North Africa.

Libya are due to make a return visit to Madagascar in May, after which the Scorpions go to Paris for further training.

They are hoping that all this preparation will enable them to come away with a result in their next Nations Cup qualifier - a vital tie against Egypt in Cairo on 20 June.

See also:

14 Oct 02 | Cup of Nations
07 Sep 02 | Cup of Nations
18 Sep 02 | Africa
Links to more Cup of Nations stories are at the foot of the page.


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