Burundi star striker, Saido Berahino and coach Olivier Niyungeko have thrown down the gauntlet ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group B clash against the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Alexandria on Saturday, June 22, Completesports.com reports.
The former Stoke City forward, Berahino, captained his side and featured for 75 minutes as Burundi held Algeria to a 1-1 draw in a pre-AFCON friendly game in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday.
The Swallows’ first ever AFCON finals match is against three-time champions, the Super Eagles on Saturday, June 22. They will face Madagascar on Thursday, June 27 before rounding off their Group A campaign against on Sunday, June 30.
He says the Swallows are ready to hoist their country’s flag high in Egypt.
Berahino’s optimism of a good outing in Egypt is hinged on the Swallows’s team spirit and resilience which saw them qualify for their maiden appearance in AFCON finals against all expectations.
“I want to reassure the Burundian people that we are ready to defend the national colors in Egypt,” said Berahino who represented England at youth levels before switching international allegiance to Burundi in 2018.
“Our strength is based on team solidarity. It helped us through the qualifiers and we hope it will help us in the tournament proper.”
Coach Olivier Niyungeko shares Berahino’s confidence, adding that the Swallows players need to play for national pride.
“I know clearly that the Group B in which we belong is very hard. But do not forget we did not lose in the qualifiers,” Niyungeko said.
“I hope the players will represent the country with dignity and be able to get far in the competition.”