Madagascar’s national football team has been recognised with the rank of Knight of the Malagasy National Order following their exceptional performance at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
The team made an impressive run by securing wins against Burundi, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo, making it to the quarter-finals.
The team received a warm welcome from President Andry Rajoelina at the Lavaloha State Place who also gave them a cash reward of $250,000.
Although Rajoelina believes that the country’s team was stronger after the Afcon, the team’s coach Nicolas Dupuis thought otherwise.
“There is a lot of work to do with Madagascar. We need to build on the work that has been done to show that hard work pays off or this could just become a one-off. It’s going to be difficult to do better next time.”
Madagascar has no basic football infrastructure; no professional league and all its top players are based abroad.
“I have great affection for my players and for the country. I’m very touched by the support we have received from the Malagasy people and the hundreds of people who have travelled here. I think it’s just fantastic,” said Dupuis.