Mauritian veteran set to break Milla age record
11 April 2014, 12:44
Johannesburg - Mauritian Kersley Appou could overtake Cameroon legend Roger Milla this weekend and become the oldest African international footballer.
The 43-year striker with 10 goals from 24 national-team appearances is in an 18-man squad for the opening 2015 Cup of Nations (CAN) qualifier against Mauritania in Nouakchott.
And if Appou starts or comes on as a substitute at the 40,000-seat Stade Olympique in the north-west Africa city, he will overtake 1990 World Cup show-stopper Milla.
The Cameroonian bade farewell to international football at the 1994 World Cup in the United States aged 42 years and 39 days.
Appou turns 44 on April 24, four days after the return match against Mauritania in a tie that gets the ball rolling in a 222-day qualifying competition for Morocco.
However, the Mauritian from the Pamplemousses club has some way to go if he wants to become the oldest international footballer among FIFA member nations.
That distinction belongs to MacDonald Taylor senior from the US Virgin Islands at 46 years and 217 days, according to soccer statistics foundation RSSSF.
Netherlands beach footballer Roel Liefden holds the FIFA final competition record, playing at 46 years and seven months in the 2013 World Cup, the world governing body confirmed.
The chances of Appou playing are good as he and 23-year-old Gurty Calembe are the only strikers chosen by coach Akbar Patel.
Pamplemousses and Cercle de Joachim form the core of an all-local squad with five players each while Bulgaria-based midfielder Kevin Bru is unavailable.
Lack of practice may hamper the Mauritian Les Dodos, a nickname derived from the now extinct flightless bird that inhabited the island state.
Their last international was a 3-0 friendly defeat away to 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar last September while Mauritania drew 1-1 with Niger in Nouakchott just a month ago.
Almost half the 24-strong Mauritania squad named by French coach Patrice Neveu are locals who featured in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) last January.
Appearing at a CAF competition finals for the first time, the Mauritanians lost 1-0 to the Democratic Republic of Congo, 3-2 to Burundi and 4-2 to Gabon.
Several debutants impressed amid the losses, including midfielder Moulaye Ahmed, better known by his 'Bessam' nickname.
A blow for former Niger, Guinea and DR Congo coach Neveu was the withdrawal of striker Dominique da Silva from Egyptian club Zamalek.
Both teams want to improve dismal Nations Cup qualifying records with Mauritania winning only five of 18 home games and Mauritius just four of 45 away matches.
The aggregate winners advance to the second preliminary round, joining 27 other countries in an April 27 Cairo draw.