The Mauritania national football team played its first international in 1963. A 6-0 loss to Congo DR. The last fifty years has brought minimal success to this small nation. Until 1963, Mauritania had been an overseas territory of France and the match was part of a tournament where several other African teams made their débuts.
Mauritania were slow to take to international football, only first avoiding defeat after seven years of matches. A first victory took much longer, coming some seventeen years after their formation in an African Cup of Nations qualifying match against Mali.
Mauritania first entered world cup qualifying for the 1978 competition, a campaign that saw the team avoid defeat for the first time in a competitive tournament. Mauritania drew their first game but were beaten in the reverse fixture and left at the first time of asking.
The team did not attempt to qualify for a second world cup until 1998. They were drawn against their opponents from twenty years earlier, Burkina Faso, and again drew the first game but lost the second. The 2002 world cup saw a fall in returns with two defeats to the vastly more experience Tunisia, resulting in a 5-1 aggregate scoreline and another first round exit.
The 2006 competition saw something of a return to form for Mauritania. In a first round tie against Zimbabwe they lost the first game but won the return, a first ever victory in a world cup game for the team. As ever, a defeat on aggregate ensured no progression beyond the first round.
The second round of qualifying was reached, albeit by default, in the 2010 world cup. Mauritania avoided the first round by virtue of being a higher ranked team. The second round took the format of a group with the team losing all of their games and failing to progress.
Ranked 137th by FIFA, Mauritania have no reason to worry about their place in world football.
World cup 2018
Fixtures to be announced.
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