Niger in historic qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations
(InformAfrica) — Niger’s national soccer team received a hero’s welcome when they returned from Egypt on Sunday after qualifying for the first time ever in the African Cup of Nations.
Niger qualified on Saturday, the penultimate day of selection for the tournament despite a loss 3-0 to Egypt on Saturday, but still finished top of their group with three wins.
Crowds of supporters waited for their team at the airport singing and dancing.
“It’s for the first time that Niger has qualified to the CAN. I am lost for words, really. It’s an immense joy which I can’t even describe,” said Abdoulaye Maman, a supporter waiting at the airport.
It was a different story on Saturday when confusion reigned after the game, with most Nigeriens thinking the loss to Egypt meant they had not qualified.
“People have now learnt that we qualified, and it’s the qualifying which counts, we are very happy,” said Issif Dante, the team captain.
Crowds of supporters singing and dancing accompanied their new heroes to the presidency where Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou received the team.
“It’s what we’ve been fighting for 51 years, and now we’ve got it. We won this battle. There are more battles ahead of us and I will continue to support our team until the end,” Issoufou said.