Burundi will be aiming to get their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign up and running when they lock horns with fellow continental newbies Madagascar at Alexandria Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
Kick-off is at 4:30pm CAT.
The two nations got their respective campaigns off to contrasting starts with Madagascar claiming a hard fought point in their first Afcon match.
Barea continued where they left off in qualifying, taking the lead against Guinea following goals from Anicet Abel and Carolus Andriamatsinoro within the space of six second-half minutes.
Francois Kamano, though, restored parity on the night as the game eventually played out to a 2-2 draw, duly handing the island nation their first point at Africa’s premier competition.
“Mentally we’re great, we’re excited about what we delivered [against Guinea] but we have to be 100% ready because it’s a decisive match. We have to play this match with the same excitement as the first one. This way we can create history,” said Madagascar midfielder Lalaina Nomenjanahary in build-up to this week’s clash.
Burundi also gave a good account of themselves on their Afcon debut, and were only denied a point in the Group B opener by a superb Odion Ighalo goal.
Madagascar head coach Nicolas Dupuis was impressed by Burundi’s fighting spirit in their clash against the Super Eagles.
“It would be a great risk if we underestimated the opponent. It’s a difficult match and Burundi is a great and stubborn team. We have to be really focussed and prepared,” Dupuis added.
Swallows forward Saido Berahino is under no illusions of the importance of their match against Madagascar, as they aim to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive.
“Mentally we are ready for this match. We have to build upon the positive things from the Nigeria encounter. This match is really important for us,” said Berahino.
Madagascar are currently ranked at 108th place in the latest Fifa World Rankings, while Burundi occupy 134th spot.