There was disappointment, however, for Côte d'Ivoire, who represented the continent at the last World Cup in Tahiti. They were beaten on penalties by Madagascar in the semi-finals, with Nigeria the other semi-finalist to lose out on a place in Portugal. FIFA.com reviews the action.
Madagascar's first-ever continental title was obviously an achievement for former French professional goalkeeper Claude Barrabe, who was installed as coach little more than a month before the event. The islanders had prepared for the competition by participating in the COSAFA Beach Soccer Championship, which were also played in Roche Caiman. They won the tournament, beating Malawi in the final. In the African Championships, Madagascar were simply too strong for their opposition. Drawn into Group B with the defending champions Senegal, Ghana and Morocco, Barrabe's team won all three group matches.
Barrabe complimented his players after the victory. “I am glad to have such talented, humble and hard working players. Winning the COSAFA Cup boosted our confidence. After our first victory in the tournament, I thought we could at least reach the semi-finals. The final was a very tight game. I am glad to bring this success to the people in Madagascar, who face very difficult living conditions."
Beaten finalists Senegal scraped into the semi-finals with just three points in their group from their 7-3 opening game victory against Morocco. They lost their second game against Madagascar before being stunned by Ghana's Black Sharks 5-3 in their final group game. But in the match they were most desperate to win, against Nigeria in the semi-finals, they held their own as they twice came from behind to win 4-3 in extra time, with Ibra Thioune scoring the two final goals for the Lions of Teranga. For Senegal coach Ibrahima Ndiaye, the victory against Nigeria meant he had achieved his first objective, which was helping Senegal to their fifth appearance on the global stage.
Also looking for a fifth World Cup participation were Nigeria's Super Sand Eagles, who, alongside Senegal, are the only African team to have escaped the group stages at a World Cup. The west Africans had a comfortable ride into the semi-finals, topping Group A with a 10-1 victory against the hosts, a 4-1 against Egypt and a 7-6 extra-time win against Côte d'Ivoire. Audu Adamu's team then came unstuck in the semi-finals against Senegal. A 9-1 victory against Côte d'Ivoire in the play-off match did little to put aside the disappointment of losing out on a place in Portugal. Two-time World Cup finalists Côte d'Ivoire qualified for the semi-finals courtesy of a penalty shoot-out victory against Egypt after a 3-3 draw in their first match. They then beat the hosts 2-1 in their next game, before losing their final group match against Nigeria. It was the first of three successive defeats as the west Africans were beaten by Madagascar in the semis and then the Nigerians again in the play-off.
Rookies Seychelles, found their first participation on the continental stage a difficult undertaking, as they lost all three Group A matches, conceding 17 goals. Their defeats continued as they were beaten by Morocco and Ghana in the play-off matches to finish last in the competition. Egypt, meanwhile, won their first knock-out game 6-5 against Ghana, but then lost the play-off for fifth place against North African rivals Morocco 3-1. The Moroccans, who made it to the semi-final last time when they hosted the competition, finished third in Group B after a 5-3 victory against Ghana. In the knock-outs, they beat the hosts 5-1 to qualify for the play-off for fifth place. The Black Sharks finished seventh with a 12-1 win against Seychelles in their play-off match.
1 Madagascar *
2 Senegal *
4 Côte d'Ivoire
*Qualified for Portugal 2015
Most Valuable Player
Tokiniaina 'Toky' Francegal (Madagascar)
Best Goalkeeper Award
Jhorialy Rafalimanana (Madagascar)
Alexander Adjei (Ghana) - 15 goals