Burundi make history, reach first-ever Africa Cup of Nations
The Swallows become the 16th country to secure a place in the 2019 AFCON and the lowest ranked team (138th in the FIFA rankings) to reach the competition so far.
Burundi were drawn in group C alongside South Sudan, Mali, and Gabon, and they made a good start to the qualifiers, earning five points from their opening three games.
They then drew with Mali in Gitega, before thrashing South Sudan 5-2 away from home, which meant they needed to at least draw with Gabon at home in order to reach the final tournament.
On the other hand, Gabon picked up only seven points from the first five rounds, while Mali had already qualified after collecting 11 points from five games.
Despite having Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back, Gabon failed to break Burundi defensive lines and the hosts severely punished them with a 76th-minute goal through Cédric Amissi.
Seven minutes later, Gabon pulled one back after an own goal from Omar Ngando, but it wasn’t enough for them as the qualification spots went to Mali and Burundi instead.
Burundi, who have Stoke City forward Saido Berahino and Hibernian’s Gael Bigirimana, become the third East African nation to reach the finals after Uganda and Kenya, with Tanzania still in contention for a spot.
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