OLIVIER Simouri scored in the final minute to give Madagascar a stunning 2-1 triumph over Ghana Monday in a Cosafa Cup quarter-final in South Africa.
His cross-cum-shot flew over goalkeeper Fatau Dauda and into the far corner of the net as the southern Africa championship shocks continued.
Michel Randriamanjaka opened the scoring direct from a free-kick on 27 minutes and Daniel Darkwah equalised before half-time via a half-volley.
The exit of title favourites Ghana followed the shock eliminations of holders Zambia and hosts South Africa a day earlier in other quarter-finals.
It was an amazing achievement by the Indian Ocean islanders even though Ghana fielded an all-local team with stars like Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew rested.
Cosafa Cup guests Ghana – 124 places above Madagascar in the world rankings – were expected to win comfortably on a chilly late South African autumn night at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
But the outsiders shrugged off weariness triggered by playing four matches within eight days to finish stronger and secure a Thursday semi-finals date against Namibia.
“This victory is not only about my wonderful team,” stressed Madagascar coach Franck Rajaonarisamba, “it is about bringing joy to our nation.”
Madagascar had to come through a gruelling three-games-in-five-days mini-league schedule to earn a crack at Ghana, one of six countries given byes to the knockout stage.
Namibia were the other side forced to take the stamina-sapping mini-league route to the quarter-finals and they or Madagascar are guaranteed a place in a final carrying a 500,00-rand ($42,000, 38,000 euros) first prize.
Ghana coach Maxwell Konadu offered no excuses after the embarrassing exit.
“Losing in the final minute is part of the sometimes cruel game of football. No one foresaw that the cross would end in the net. I am not unhappy with our performance,” he said.
The last quarter-final ended equally dramatically with Mozambique snatching a 2-2 draw against Malawi in stoppage time before winning a see-saw penalty shootout.