13th March 2017
Stade du Prince Louis Rwagasore, Bujumbura, Burundi
Burundi 1-0 Djibouti
A mere two days after going down 7-0 to Burundi, the two sides pitted their wits against each other once again in Bujumbura and this time Djibouti put up a much improved performance and came away with a much better result.
Making no fewer than 6 changes to the starting line-up from Saturday’s first match, Djibouti kept things distinctly tighter at the back even though they went behind early to a 16th minute strike from Franck Barirengako.
Incidentally, the goal scorer was one of only two Burundi players to have started both matches. Djibouti may have made six changes, but Burundi had made nine changes – a fact that can’t be disregarded when assessing this result.
Unlike on Saturday, however, Djibouti held it together after that early setback. In the 7-0 loss the opening goal was swiftly followed by two more in a matter of moments. In this clash, Djibouti held firm.
They still lost of course, and the 1-0 score line can be interpreted as being rather more frustrating than the 7-0 loss. For a team stuck at the bottom of the world rankings, coming so close to a positive result must be agonising, despite the positives they can take from this.
Going forward, however, this better showing puts Djibouti in a stronger position for their upcoming AFCON Preliminary qualifying round double header with South Sudan. It has also allowed Head Coach Nourredine Gharsali to have a good look at several of his squad, which hopefully will mean the line up for that home first leg clash next week is as strong as possible.
Having feared the worst after the 7-0 drubbing on Saturday I am now extremely optimistic that Djibouti can at least produce a solid performance in those qualifying matches, and if they can do that, then there is the possibility that a positive result could follow.
And if they somehow get past South Sudan, they would be facing Burundi as one of their qualifying group opponents for African Cup of Nations qualifying. Of course we’re a long way away from that, and if it were to happen then Djibouti would no longer be our concern as they would have crept up the rankings. We shall see in due course. On to next week and South Sudan in competitive action on Monday.