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Burundi rally, find late leveler in important draw against Namibia

Namibia took an early lead but lost their grip on the match, conceding a late equalizer to draw 1-1 against Burundi in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Group C qualifier at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday. Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana scored what could be crucial goal for Burundi in the 88th minute to cancel out Peter Shalulile’s early opener for the Brave Warriors who will be disappointed considering they were the designated hosts. Namibia have a three-month long wait until their next match while Burundi will host Cameroon on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

With Kenya being banned from qualification each match takes on extra importance due to only three teams being in the group. Namibia, dealing with injury issues, got off to an excellent start and asserted themselves in a first half that featured few opportunities. Mamelodi Sundowns star striker Shalulile provided a trademark clinical finish to give Namibia the lead in the 10th minute when he collected a long ball and fired past Burundi goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana from twenty yards out.

It was a different story after halftime as Burundi gathered themselves and were more focused when in Namibia’s half. Warriors keeper Lloyd Kazapua Jr. was tested in the 56th minute when he came up with a save to deny Burundi midfielder Cédric Amissi before a follow up effort from Mohamed Amissi was well blocked by a Namibian defender. Mohamed Amissi nearly found the leveler in the 80th minute after he took down a lofted ball and cut inside from the left wing before dragging his low shot just wide of the goal.

Namibia would not hold out for the three points in the end and only had themselves to blame for losing their focus in the final stretch. A hopeful free kick from midfield was lobbed into the Namibian penalty area and Burundi center back Frédéric Nsabiyumva leapt up to nod the ball down to Bimenyimana for a low first-time finish that trickled past Kazapua to give the visitors the reward they deserved. Despite Bimenyimana receiving a second yellow card and being sent off for his celebration, Burundi held out for what could be a crucial road result with only three more games to play.

Highlights from Johannesburg are below.

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