Comoros created history on Thursday as they secured a berth at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time ever after a 0-0 draw at home in the Stade Omnisports de Malouzini against Togo.

The match may have been pretty uneventful and quite underwhelming but that will not take away anything from the island nation of Comoros that is home to under one million people.

This is one of the biggest achievements for the country that has been known more for its history of politics and music than sports.

Wild scenes of celebration broke out on the final whistle as fans, players and politicians celebrated the qualification for next year’s AFCON finals that will be held in Cameroon.

Comoros had never won a major qualifying game until 2016 when they beat Botswana in what was their 20th attempt at winning a game.


Comoros fans have lots to celebrate. (Photo by Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Five years hence, they are equal on points with record AFCON champions Egypt in Group G with three wins and two draws from their five matches. It is no small feat to be unbeaten in the continental qualifiers, especially with 2018 World Cup team Egypt being in the group.

Even before qualifying campaign began, no one expected the Coelacantes to qualify with heavyweights Egypt being there in their group and a Kenyan team with some top players who play their football in some of the elite leagues across the globe.

Not only did Comoros qualify by overcoming all odds but they did so handsomely with a game to spare and going unbeaten.

Credit must go to Amir Abdou, Comoros’ national coach since 2014 and whose insistence on bringing in players from around the world to play for the team has revolutionised their fortunes.

“I think I was the only professional when I arrived in 2010,” captain Nadjim ‘Jimmy’ Abdou, who played in England for Millwall and AFC Wimbledon, said before the game.

“We were 5 or 6 expatriates at the time. It’s clear that we started from the bottom but year after year, with the addition of other professionals, the whole organisation became more professional.”

Prior to this match, defender Said Bakari credited coach Abdou for his insistence on playing football on the ground given the fact that only a few of the national team players are ‘tall [and] strong’.

“The Nations Cup is huge,” rapper Alonzo said. “There are some big countries which are really, really great in terms of football. It would be huge to face these big nations of the continent.”

Comoros now joins Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Gambia, fellow group members and 7-time AFCON winners Egypt, African champions Algeria, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea and hosts Cameroon. 12 teams have qualified so far with 12 to go still.

In the sixth and final round of qualifiers on Sunday, Egypt host Comoros in what will be a battle to finish on top of the group while Kenya travel to Togo in a dead rubber with just personal pride as stake.