The Super Eagles of Nigeria were on Sunday stunned by Madagascar, who secured a 2-0 victory against their more established rival in the final Group B game of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Goals by Lalaina Nomenjanahary in the 13th minute and Carolus Andriamatsinoro in the 53rd minute gave the Barea an unlikely victory against a side tipped to top the group.
The victory means Madagascar finished the group games unbeaten and atop the group with seven points, while the Super Eagles came second with six points.
Coach Gernot Rohr made five changes to the team that picked up a 1-0 win against Guinea on for Sunday’s game, with captain John Mikel Obi and William Troost-Ekong returning to the side.
The experienced returnees, however, were not feared by the Malagasy, who started the game on a high tempo and never gave the Super Eagles any space to settle in the game.
The aggression of the Nicolas Dupuis-led side soon turned positive in the 13th minute after Leon Balogun, who received a misplaced John Ogu pass, was hunted down and dispossessed off the ball by Nomenjanahary, who rounded up goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and slotted the ball into the back of an empty net.
The Super Eagles failed to get any rhythm all through the first half and despite the introduction of Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Moses Simon, the third-ranked African team failed to muster any real attempt upfront.
The West African team were further punished for their lacklustre display after Andriamatsinoro’s deflected freekick flew past Ezenwa into the back of the net.
Madagascar will now face the third best-placed team from either Groups A, C or D, while Nigeria has a date with the runner-group in Group F, which is likely to be its fierce west African rival, the Black Stars of Ghana.