Head coach of Madagascar, Rakotondrabe Romuald boldly stated that the game of football is not won on paper, but on the field of player.
The Madagascar mentor was speaking from the Chahid Hamlaoui Stadium in Constantine, where they will open their TotalEnergies African Nations Championship campaign against Ghana on Sunday, 15 January.
The islanders come into the clash carrying the underdogs title against the two-time finalists who will be looking at finally lifting the title that has eluded their trophy cabinet twice in the 2009 and 2014 editions.
Romuald, who was flanked by his captain, Rakotondrazaka Ando said Ghana may have the big names and pedigree on paper, but nothing can be confirmed until the game is played and concluded on Sunday.
“My team is well prepared and ready to compete. We are under no pressure but of course we have great respect for the Ghana national team. They have reached the finals of this competition twice, so it won’t be easy playing against them. However, I have to highlight that the game of football is eleven versus eleven and we have brought a team that is here to compete and carry the hopes of our country” said a confident Romuald.
Asked on what his ambitions are for the tournament, the coach did not want to commit to a definite targeted finish but rather opted to encourage his squad to give a good performance in every fixture of the tournament.
“There is no secret to success but to work hard and give it your all. We are playing this tournament for the first time but that does not mean that we should be push overs. We are here to play football and compete”, he confidently said.
The coach’s words were echoed by his captain who said this tournament was important for the development of football in Madagascar.
“The players are really looking forward to playing in this tournament. It will allow us to test our strength against other countries which can only be good for the growth of the game in Madagascar”
Kick off for the Madagascar vs Ghana fixture will be at 20h00 on Sunday, 15 January.