domingo, 17 de julio de 2011

Football in Paradise

By David Dhannoo

For those who are not familiar where Mauritius is, it is an island nation with an approximate population of 1,288,000 and is situated off the south east coast of the African Continent in the south west of the Indian Ocean.

Football on the island is very popular, the likes of the English Premier League dominate household viewings. The majority follow the top four English teams, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

The national team, often referred by it's nickname, Club M played it's first competitive international game against island neighbours Reunion in 1947, they won 2-1 on the day. For the next twenty years Mauritius played many games with their Island neighbours such as Reunion, Madagascar, and the Seychelles.

By 1967, Club M started playing against other nations, mainly countries from continental Africa.

Throughout their entire history, the islanders have only once qualified for the African Cup of Nations, which was in 1974 and hosted by Egypt.

Near the end of the 1990's Mauritian football showed its ugly side, with deadly riots caused by once named Scouts Club (known today as A.S. Port Louis 2000). Scouts Club were playing Fire Brigade Sports Club (known today as Pamplemousses SC) in a title decider, Fire Brigade were given a controversial penalty and won the game 1-0. Seven people died and rioting lasted for three days.

The ramifications lead to an eighteenth month ban on domestic football,with the national team remaining to play. It has been said that at this point both domestic and international football started to plummet on the island.

At present Club M are in their worst ever ranking, sitting in 189th place in the FIFA World Rankings. Their African Cup of Nations qualifiers have been a disaster, scoring only two goals and conceeding fifteen. Club M's heaviest defeat was back in October last year when they lost 7-0 to Senegal away in Dakar. In June they played the DR Congo at home and lost 2-1, they were therefore eliminated with two remaining games left.

At present Les Dodos are preparing for the Indian Ocean Island Games which is being hosted by the Seychelles. They have been training in South Africa for the past week playing friendlies with the Orlando Pirates, Black Aces Mpummalanga, Platinum Stars, and Pretoria University.The team fly back on Sunday and will continue preparations. It is believed they will play French Islanders Mayotte before arriving in the Seychelles for the eighth Indian Ocean Island Games. Mauritius will play the Maldives in their first match which will be played on the fourth of August in the Seychelles capital Victoria.

Follow David in Twitter: @Mauritiusfoot

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