AFCON Under20: Burundi force hosts Niger to draw in six-goal thriller




By Victor Okoye

Hosts Niger were on Tuesday forced to a 3-3 draw by Burundi at the ongoing Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the match played at the Stade Général Seyni Kountché in Niamey, Niger Republic was the hosts second round Group A fixture.

The hosts who came into the game in third position after recording a 1-1 draw with the Amajitas of South Africa were anxious to get the maximum points from a less fancied Burundi at the bottom of table.

The hosts opened scoring early in the 18th minute with Salou Issah converting from the penalty spot after the referee had spotted an infringement in the box.

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Niger continued to pile pressure on Burundi’s defence and got their second goal through Kairou Amoustapha in the 42nd minute.

However, Saidi Irakoze reduced the deficit for Burundi through a well taken penalty late in the 45th minute as the first half ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts.

Niger continued from where they stopped as they made several incursions into the box of their opponents in the second half.

The pressure paid off once again as they went in front again in the 56th minute through Sabo Mahamadou.

Just when it looked like the hosts would run away with the 3-1 victory, Burundi shocked the home crowd with two quick goals through Jules Ulimwengu and Bienvenue Kanakimana in the 73rd and 75th minutes to level scores 3-3.

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Both sides pushed for a late winner afterwards, but it was not to be as both shared the spoil at the end of a thrilling encounter.

The result meant seven-times winners of the competition, Nigeria remain top of group A with four points, while Niger Republic occupy the second spot with two points.

They are closely followed by South Africa who have also amassed two points, albeit with an inferior goal difference, while Burundi with  a point occupy bottom of the table.

Nigeria will face hosts Niger in their final group game on Friday, while South Africa battle Burundi also on Friday.

Nigeria will require a win or at least a draw against hosts Niger in the last game to ensure qualification to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

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The top two teams from each group advance into the semi-finals and also secure qualification to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Poland later this year.

The 2019 Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations which is in its 15th edition kicked off on Feb. 2 and is expected to end on Feb.17. (NAN)




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