Football: TotalEnergies U-23 Africa Cup of Nations |30 September 2022
Seychelles lose heavily over two legs to exit qualifiers
Their dream was to qualify for the Olympic Games, but the Seychelles national under-23 football team have learned that the journey to the Olympics is very hard.
Drawn against Madagascar in the first round of the TotalEnergies Under-23 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, the Seychelles team played both the home and away leg matches away at the Kianja Barea Mahamasina Stadium in Antananarivo, losing 1-12 on aggregate score.
In the first leg ‘away’ match on Saturday September 24, Seychelles lost 0-5 with Arnaud Andrianantenaina (12th and 38th minutes), El Hadari Raheriniaina (16th minute), Jinidy (48th minute) and captain Kalvin Paul (87th minute penalty) scoring for the home side.
The return ‘home’ leg match was also played at the same venue on Tuesday September 27 and Seychelles took an early third minute lead through Assad Aboudou with a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area, but the boys of coach Cliff Nolin could not hold on to it as the Malagasies had more firepower and pummeled them 1-7 this time.
Madagascar’s goals were scored by Lalane (7th minute), El Hadari Raheriniaina (11th and 83rd minutes, penalty), Arnaud (18th and 6th minutes), Graham Faure (own goal, 54th minute) and Claude (85th minute).
The Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) opted for the team to play the return ‘home’ leg match in Madagascar because Stad Linite has not be certified by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to host international matches.
The SFF took the decision so as not to incur extra costs as Seychelles has for a while now been playing ‘home’ matches in Mauritius. Since the Malagasy team also cut down on the travel expenses, they in return paid for Seychelles to stay in Madagascar for the return match.
Madagascar will now meet former winners Gabon in the second round of the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which are also referred to as Morocco 2023 since Morocco will host the final group stage of the competition in June 2023.
Twenty countries entered the first round and the draw produced 10 first round match-ups.
Former winners Nigeria, Gabon and Egypt, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and Mali are the 10 teams who skipped the first round by earning direct places in the second round.
The 14 second round ties will be played over two legs from October 21-23 and October 28-30.
The 14 winners will then move into the third round of qualifying, scheduled for March 2023, to determine the seven teams who will join hosts Morocco for next year's continental event. The top three from the tournament in June will qualify to represent Africa in men's football at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
To harbour the hope of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, Seychelles had to make it past three qualifying rounds to reach the group stage and then finish in one of the top three positions in the TotalEnergies Under-23 African Cup of Nations finals.
The 25-member Seychelles delegation was led by SFF chief executive Georges Bibi. Cliff Nolin was the head coach, Damien Jean manager, Ted Esther (assistant coach) and Slim William (goalkeeper coach).
It is to note that 14 of the 20 players who represented Seychelles in Madagascar are less than 20 years old and the remaining six 21 years of age.
The players who made the trip are:
Goalkeepers: Dulla Morel, Harim Radegonde.
Defenders: Shaib Cathene, Shanon Stravens, Adrian Hoareau, Vince Fred, Ryan Cupidon, Stephan Ladouce, Stan Esther, Graham Faure.
Midfielders: Justin Riaze, Jean-Paul Barreau, Jahni Nourice, Imra Raheriniaina, Edward Bastienne.
Strikers: Thierry Camille, Shaquille Francourt, Affan Aboudou, Elie Sopha, Assad Aboudou.