Madagascar’s dream run at their very first Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament has ended after suffering a 3-0 loss to Tunisia at the Al-Salam stadium in Cairo on Thursday. They have been a breath of fresh air at the tournament, but are now on their way home with their heads held high.

Madagascar defied all odds in the group stage, finishing top of the log with seven points from their three matches. Madagascar surprised all and sundry with a stellar performance against football powerhouse, Nigeria, beating them 2-0.

In the second round, the Malagasies held their own against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), before winning 4-2 after a penalty shoot-out.

In their quarter-final tie, they came up against 2004 champions, Tunisia, at the 30 000 seater Al-Salam stadium.

Nothing could separate the two sides in the first half. Six minutes into the second half, Ferjani Sassi’s shot was deflected into the net, giving Tunisia the lead. On the hour mark, Youssef Msakni made it 2-0 to the North Africans.

In stoppage time, Naim Sliti’s goal sent Tunisia through to the semi-finals for the first time since winning their only championship at home in 2004.

In the last four, the Eagles of Carthage will take on Senegal for a place in the final of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria will clash with Algeria in the other semi-final encounter. These matches will be played on Sunday evening.