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    AFCON 2019: We’ll be fearless against Nigeria, Burundi’s star insists

    Burundi’s national team talisman, Gael Bigirimana says they would fearless in their approach to the opening game of group B against Nigeria regarded as one of the favourites on June 22 at the Alexandria Stadium.
    Bigirimana was instrumental to the qualification of Burundi for its maiden appearance at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), the midfielder believes going to Egypt for their first time would not put them under intense pressure as they have nothing to lose playing against Nigeria, Madagascar and Guinea in Group B of the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.
    Bigirimana who fled Burundi 15 years ago helped his native country to berth in Egypt in March after playing 1-1 draw against Gabon in their final qualifying match told FIFA.com, that making it to Egypt would heal a lot of would in Burundi.
    “Burundi doesn’t have the capacity – we’re not a strong nation financially – to compete with sides like Mali and Gabon in our qualifying group. It was against all odds. For us, it was more than just qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations; for me, that was just a bonus. It was about hope. Bringing hope to a nation whose people has not had something to look forward to for so long. Football is such a powerful tool that can change things,” Bigirimana said.
    Image result for Gael Bigirimana
    He added: “We’ll be underdogs at the Africa Cup of Nations, no doubt about that, but, being a small nation, we’ve got nothing to lose. There are no expectations for us to go win the cup. We’re just going to go and be fearless.”
    “The more that we continue to portray that within the national team; that message that will speak to the whole nation of Burundi. We are all Burundian. No matter what the person looks like, no matter what background they come from, what province they come from, what family they’re born in. We’re all Burundians.
    “I hope that somehow this can open up opportunities for people. Football is a relay race, you run a bit and you have to pass to the next generation, and they have to run their race. I just thank God that we’ve had the privilege of running well,” he opined.
    Image result for Gael Bigirimana
    Meanwhile, Burundi is doing everything possible at ensuring that their team lacks nothing when they battle the West African giant on June 22 and efforts are on to raise the needed funds for the continental showpiece.
    The fund-raising initiated by President of the Burundi Federation of Football, Reverien Ndikuriyo believes the fund would help the team to have sufficient fund not to be distracted during the tournament.
    Ndikuriyo also called for fundraising or even crowdfunding for the national team for their whole stay in Egypt.
    According to Burundi-based Region Week, Ndikuriyo said that federation is still facing a challenge of insufficient money to facilitate the stay of Burundi’s Swallows in Egypt.
    Image result for Gael Bigirimana
    Ndikuriyo had called for anyone to support the national team, from Burundi government to any other Burundi citizen proud of his national team.
    Thus, many sympathizers are now heeding the call of the federation boss to support financially Burundi’s Swallows, and they are going on fundraising money for the team stay in Egypt.
    In response to the call, a relative amount of money(around 90 million BIF until now) has been collected on behalf of the Swallows on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, by some companies to support the preparations of the team that for the AFCON 2019.

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