Debutants Burundi out to roar, unbowed by big-name Nigeria


Debutants Burundi out to roar, unbowed by big-name Nigeria
Burundi national team players are put through their paces at their base in Alexandria, Egypt/PHOTO/COURTESY

In Summary

  • At exactly 5pm tomorrow at the 19,500 seater Alexandria Stadium in Alexandria, Karim Nigigiyimana will lead his team mates against a star-studded Nigerian side as they launch their quest for the African Cup of Nations title.
  • Burundi are making a debut appearance at this stage after impressing in the qualifiers, denying favourites Gabon, led by none other than Arsenal hit man Pierre Emerick Aubameyang a chance to grace this championship.

Isaac Swila in Cairo

At exactly 5pm tomorrow at the 19,500 seater Alexandria Stadium in Alexandria, Karim Nigigiyimana will lead his team mates against a star-studded Nigerian side as they launch their quest for the African Cup of Nations title.

Burundi are making a debut appearance at this stage after impressing in the qualifiers, denying favourites Gabon, led by none other than Arsenal hit man Pierre Emerick Aubameyang a chance to grace this championship.

And as they count the hours to the decisive match, Nizigiyimana is aware of the task at hand. There are no illusions but he believes his side, though rank outsiders in Group B which also has Guinea, Madagascar and favourites Nigeria can still get the job done.

“Our team is good to go. We have had good preparations and we’re here not just as Burundi but as East Africa- Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania, to do well in the AFCON competition and we call on the fans support.”

Aware of the enormity at task, Nizigiyimana, a polished right-back will have to be at his impeccable best to keep at bay prowling Nigerian attackers led by the tricky Ahmed Musa as they chase for a good result.

 

On a head-to-head count, Nigeria boast of better player pedigree, experience and clout but Karim expects his boys to be equal to task and not be intimidated by the big stage.

Gor Mahia’s attacking midfielder Francis Mustapha was even more blunt in his pre-match assessment noting that they’ve not come to make up the numbers.

“We did not come here for classes but to show our pedigree. We qualified for the AFCON, and we have to show it, and I believe we will go far .Yes, Nigeria is a good team, they are champions but we’re not playing them because of their name.They have two legs just like us and we’ll battle them. It’s 90 minutes on the pitch which will decide.”

With the die cast, The Swallows have no margin for error as Madagascar and Guinea are equally strong opponents. Only top two finishers are guaranteed automatic slots to the knockout stage.

Fixtures

Today

Egypt v Zimbabwe- 11pm (Cairo)

Tomorrow

Nigeria v Burundi-5pm (Alexandria)

Guinea v Madagascr-10pm (Alexandria)

DR Congo v Uganda-4.30pmCairo)

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Story By Isaac Swila
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