19.04.2014 08:00 h

Football: African history-maker Appou eyes world record

Alexandre Lacazette
Alexandre Lacazette

Mauritian Kersley Appou could become the oldest international goalscorer Sunday just seven days after creating African football history.

The striker overtook Cameroon legend Roger Milla last weekend as the oldest African international by playing in a 1-0 loss against Mauritania aged 43 years and 354 days.

And if Appou finds the net in the second leg of a 2015 Cup of Nations qualifier, he will replace Singapore striker Aleksandar Duric as the oldest international scorer.

Serbia-born Duric was on target against Malaysia during 2012 aged 42 years and 105 days, according to soccer statistics foundation RSSSF.

Milla is second, famed Englishman Stanley Matthews third, Zambian Kalusha Bwalya fourth and Fung King-Cheung from Hong Kong completes the five oldest scorers among FIFA member nations.

Appou has scored consistently in domestic football this season, prompting Mauritius coach Akbar Patel to recall the striker after seven years in the wilderness.

Patel has not revealed his starting line-up nor substitutes for the first round game at the 52,000-seat New George V Stadium in central town Curepipe.

But the coach in his third spell guiding Mauritius sees a role for Appou, who has struck 10 goals in 25 internationals spanning 16 years.

"Kersley scores regularly and I have a hunch he will be among the goals against Mauritania and help us qualify," he said.

Patel used only one striker in the first leg, starting with 23-year-old Gurty Calembe and introducing the tall Appou 10 minutes from time.

The African history maker has spent his football career with various Mauritian clubs apart from a brief spell playing in neighbouring Reunion.

Mauritius, whose lone Cup of Nations finals appearance was in 1974, have a horrendous recent home record in qualifiers.

Les Dodos -- the national team nickname derives from an extinct flight-less bird that inhabited the island -- have won only one of their last 15 matches.

That 3-1 triumph over Uganda was a rare occasion as Mauritius failed to score in seven games and netted just once in each of seven other qualifiers.

However, Patel believes the deficit can be overcame and a place secured in the April 27 Cairo draw for the second preliminary round.

"We must believe in our chances," he said, "but dare not underestimate opponents who have many France-based footballers."

Patel has bolstered his first-leg squad with three midfielders -- Bulgaria-based Kevin Bru, 36-year-old Jimmy Cundasamy and Fabrice Pithia.

Mauritania welcome back striker Dominique da Silva from leading Egyptian club Zamalek, who missed the first leg in Nouakchott.

He is set to team up with Nouakchott match-winner Adama Ba, a 20-year-old from French Ligue 1 outfit Bastia.

"Our destiny is in our hands," said France-born Mauritania coach Patrice Neveu after a tiring journey to Mauritius via Dakar and Dubai.

Mauritania have never reached the Cup of Nations finals nor won an away qualifier with draws in Senegal and Togo coming amid 18 losses.