Burundi kept their CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 hopes of qualification alive after a narrow 3-2 victory over Namibia in a Group C encounter on Tuesday.
The Swallows were in desperate need of the victory which now puts them level on four points with second-placed Cameroon in the three-team group following the exclusion of Kenya.
The result also puts them just a point behind leaders Namibia going into their final round of qualifier against the Indomitable Lions in September.
The hosts wasted no time in finding the opener after Abed Bigirimana fired his side into the lead as early as the first minute of the game to help settle the nerves.
Caleb Bimenyimana then doubled the lead minutes later after some poor marking in the Namibian box concluded with the target man easily volleying the ball into the net.
The striker remained a nuisance for the Namibians, who’s defense was in disarray when long ball was flicked into space by Bimenyimana for Hussein Shaban to send it past the advancing Edward Maova and make it three for his side.
The Brave Warriors did manage to find their rhythm before the break, with Mamelodi Sundowns hitman, Peter Shalulile pulling one back in the 41st minute as they headed for the break.
Coming back from the recess, Namibia looked more structured in their defense, which allowed for a much-improved attack by their forwards.
Jwaneng Galaxy forward, Rudath Wendell was then brought on for the more defensive Joslin Kamatuka to bolster the Warriors’ attack.
Wendell, who was a constant threat to the Burundian defense eventually reduced the deficit with a strike in the 85th minute.
With pressure mounting for the hosts, the scoreline was almost levelled in the 89th minute when Abedi Bigirimana’s shot narrowly went off target for Burundi to secure the three points ahead of their crucial encounter with Cameroon later this year.