Uburundi / Burundi
- Capitals: Gitega & Bujumbura
- Official Languages: Kirundi, French
- Nicknames: Intamba / Les Hirondelles (The Swallows)
- Association: Football Federation of Burundi / Fédération de football du Burundi (FFB)
- FIFA Code: BDI
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best AFCON/CAN Result (Men): Group Stage (2019)
- Best AFCON/CAN Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best CHAN Result (Men): Group Stage (2014)
- Best CECAFA Cup Result (Men): Finalists (2004)
- Best CECAFA Cup Result (Men): Fourth Place (2019)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 96th (August 1993)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): n/a
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 160th (July 1998)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): n/a
- Most Capped Player: Karim Nizigiyimana – 54 caps [as of Mar 2021]
- Top Scorer: Juma Mossi – 27 goals
The Republic of Burundi (Republika y’Uburundi / République du Burundi) is a landlocked country in central Africa which borders on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, one of Africa’s Great Lakes. Having regained its independence from Belgium in 1962, the country’s FA didn’t join FIFA and CAF until 1972, and the team wouldn’t compete in the regional CECAFA Cup until 1979. Burundi are yet to win a CECAFA Cup, coming the closest to lifting the regional trophy in 2004 before losing 3-0 to Ethiopia in the final. They have also finished in fourth place on four occasions, the most recent in the 2017 tournament. However, despite its relative success at regional level, Burundi had failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations during its history. That was until the most recent edition, held in Egypt in 2019, when The Swallows finally qualified for the continental tournament, finishing runners-up behind group winners Mali, and ahead of favourites Gabon. Alas their debut appearance in the tournament did not go to plan as the Burundians lost all three games and finished bottom of their group.
In the draw for the 2021 AFCON qualification group stage, Burundi were ranked as the strongest side within the ‘Pot 4‘ teams, but were still placed in the lowest seed for the group stage. Nonetheless, they are in a good position to potential qualify for their second consecutive AFCON. Situated in third position in their group, they are just a point behind Mauritania in second position with two games remaining, and still able to snatch that crucial second qualification spot for the upcoming AFCON (which has been rescheduled for 2022).
Talking about a side who are one of the stronger sides within the CECAFA sub-confederation and appeared in their first ever African Cup of Nations in 2019, we interviewed the excellent Levis Van Mashatsi from Foot +257. It’s a Twitter account which provides the “latest official news, quotes, confirmed transfers and match-day coverage from all over the world, especially Burundi Football“, with +257 being the international calling code for Burundi. To find their social media accounts, follow the links below:
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
Malik Djabil, Stanley Maradona, Blaise Karorero and Jean Marie Mbuyi were all brillant but I think Juma Mossi was another level. He was an excellent player, a good finisher, and his scoring ability made him our national team’s leading scorer up to this point [27 goals in 47 appearances], and he is also Gabonese side FC 105 Libreville’s top scorer of all time [scoring 102 goals in 202 appearances].
Adel Amrouch is in my opinion our greatest manager of all time. I’m not denying Alain Olivier Niyungeko or Ndindi Ribakare‘s abilities, and Olivier qualified us in our only CAN tournament, but Adel is the one who really impressed me.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
For the past, I’ll go for Juma Mossi, but in the present, [Saudi club] Al Taawoun’s Cédric Amissi is our guy… the fact that he scored the goal that led us straight into the AFCON Egypt 2019 makes him a clear winner.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player in the Burundi national side currently?
İstanbul Başakşehir’s Youssouf Ndayishimiye, Saido Berahino [currently on loan at Charleroi] and [South African side] Chippa Utd’s Frédéric Nsabiyumva are really indispensable for the team, but [Tanzania-based club] Young Africans’ Saidi Ntibazonkiza is arguably our best player… he is that player who bring that magic in the team, the one who make things happen, and many people believe think that he was the one player that we missed the most at the AFCON 2019.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
Not that bad, we are still in contention for a place in the AFCON 2021. If we can beat the Central African Republic, and achieve a draw against Morocco, it will send us straight through to the CAN.
Q. Are there any Burundian players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
Heracles Almelo’s Mohamed Amissi [20 year-old winger], Willem II’s Mike Trésor Ndayishimiye (if he finally chooses to represent Burundi at senior level having played for Belgium at youth levels) [a 21 year-old attacking midfielder], Yeni Malatyaspor’s Jospin Nshimirimana [19 year-old midfielder], Adelaide United’s Pacifique Niyongabire [20 year-old winger] and Aigle Noir’s Asman Ndikumana [19 year-old defender] are obviously the players to be focusing on, but Mo Amissi is in my concern the most talented.
Q. Looking at Burundi’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
Our 3-1 win against Mauritania back in 2006 is my favourite, we had a great game, Adel Amrouche’s men were really outstanding… unfortunately I can’t say the same on our 1-0 loss to Madagascar during the AFCON 2019.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
Our performance during the AFCON 2019 was mediocre. Three games, 3 loss, 5 goals conceded, and 0 goals scored.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Burundi national team?
The best thing is that you forget all your clubs rivarlies, you are all behind your national team, and a good result is really amazing.
The worst thing is you don’t often attend to international matches.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
Yeah. One of our most iconic songs is “INTAMBA MU RUGAMBA, INTWARI MU RUGAMBA!”.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
Of course, our current home kit is amazing.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Burundian national team?
With all the players that we’ve got, I hope that we can qualify for the AFCON 2021. We’ve got a younger selection of players, and if all tools are in place, I hope that we can even qualify for the FIFA 2026 World Cup, who knows!?!
A massive urakoze to the superb Foot +257 account for answering our questions on the Swallows. Remember you can find their excellent social media accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at email@example.com or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.