Madagascar once came within two penalties of creating one of the all-time upsets in African FIFA World Cup™ history. That was in 1985, when the islanders were drawn against North African giants Egypt in the qualifying rounds for Mexico 1986.
Even though the Pharaohs had more trouble than expected in winning the first leg at home 1-0, they were expected to cruise into the next round against Madagascar, who were considered as one of football's absolute minnows. But things did not go as expected and after 90 minutes Madagascar were leading 1-0. Thirty minutes later, Madagascar were still leading 1-0 and the game went into a penalty-shoot-out. In this case, fortune did not favour the brave, it favoured the Egyptians, who won the shoot-out 4-2 to deny the Madagascans an historic victory.
Since then, the Scorpions have taken their place in African football and although they are not amongst the favourites to qualify for the finals of the FIFA World Cup, they fell just short of securing a place in the group-stage qualifiers for Germany 2006 after two tight legs against Benin in the preliminary phase.
Their opponents were ranked below them in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, but had received a tremendous boost when they managed to qualify for the Nations Cup finals for the first time shortly before taking on the islanders. The first game in Antananarivo ended 1-1 and the return leg in Cotonou was evenly poised at 2-2 - a result which would have seen the Madagascans through - but an injury time goal ended their FIFA World Cup dreams.
The Scorpions have already got their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign underway, easily disposing of newcomers Comoros Islands 10-2 on aggregate over two legs in their preliminary round tie. The rout included four goals in the first leg for Ima Faneva Andriatsimba, who plays his club football in France for FC Nantes.