Comoros isle thrilled to make debut appearance at continental bonanza

By , People Daily Digital
Thursday, January 13th, 2022 00:00 | < 1 min read
Gabon’s midfielder Lloyd Palun (R) pulls back Comoros’ forward Faiz Mattoir (L) during their Group C Afcon 2021 match at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on January 10, 2022. Photo/AFP

Yaounde, Wednesday

Comoros may have lost their Africa Cup of Nations opener, but the occasion is one which will always be savoured in the tiny islands in the Indian Ocean.

One of two debutants at the tournament in Cameroon, the Coelacanths lost 1-0 to Gabon in their first Group C match in Yaounde on Monday.

“It was a really proud moment. Exciting, but sometimes we could feel some nerves,” midfielder Fouad ‘Fred’ Bachirou told BBC Sport Africa.

“We are proud to represent our country, proud to fly our flag in this huge competition.”

For years Comoros, a country more famous for its history of political coups, struggled to make any impact whatsoever in qualifying, let alone come close to reaching the continent’s showpiece.

Their first major win came in 2016, when they beat Botswana in what was their 20th attempt to win either a Nations Cup or World Cup qualifier.

And, with a squad bolstered by members of the diaspora mostly based in France, Comoros achieved a maiden qualification - losing just one of their six matches to book their place in Cameroon.

Footballing elite

The Islands’ president Azali Assoumani was present at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo to show his support as the country of just under a million inhabitants took their place among Africa’s footballing elite for the first time.

“We didn’t play as well as we usually do, but we understand, it’s the first game of the competition,” Bachirou added.

“But have now broken the ice and I am sure we will be more confident and eager to win in the second game.” -BBC

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