Just a day after people back at home celebrate their 59th Independence Day, Madagascar will be on duty at the Alexandria Stadium in Egypt looking to give them a belated gift when they take on Burundi in their second Total Africa Cup of Nations Group B match.
The Barea have destiny in their hands, to pick three points and enhance their chances of progressing to the knockout phase of the biennial African Championship on their maiden attempt. They started their campaign with a 2-2 draw against Guinea, a massive point that heightened their confidence.
Coming into the game against Burundi, a win will take them to four points and if they can get a further point in their final duel against Nigeria, then they will be almost certain of making it into the round of 16.
Madagascar have a full strength squad with no injury concerns, save for defender Jeremy Morel who will undergo a late fitness test before he can be given the green-light to play.
Meanwhile, Burundi who are also in the competition for the first time are facing a must win tie if they are to remain in the tournament. A 1-0 loss at the hands of Nigeria in their opening game set them back and they now have to win against Madagascar.
Abdul Razak Fiston and Saido Berahino who were kept under close check by Nigerian defenders will hope to explode against Madagascar in a game where goals will count for everything if they are to stand a chance.
What they said:
Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis
We know that Burundi is a very good team. They are a small nation just like us and are motivated to be here so this makes this game even harder. But we know destiny is in our hands and we will go out there to do our best.
We are happy with the result from the first game because it added us some huge amount of motivation. For this game, we have to be mentally and physically ready and play at 200%. We have to play this match with the same intensity we played against Guinea.
Madagascar player Lalaïna Nomenjanahary
We have a dream to give this qualification to the people of Madagascar. Back at home it will be a happy Wednesday and we hope for us here it will be a happy Thursday. We have the same dream and we will work for it.
We know it will be a tough game, but we are ready for it. We will fight to make history because we are here to make history.
Burundi coach Olivier Niyungeko:
Nigeria was our first final and this is the second final we are facing. It was unfortunate we list that game but we were proud of our performance. We have gone back and looked at what we need to do better and we are ready for the task.
In Burundi, we always say you must never lose hope until it’s over so we will fight with our all.
Burundi captain Saido Berahino:
We have to show them respect because they showed they are a good team with how they played Guinea. We know we are in a tough situation but we are not under any pressure. We were in this situation as well when we played against Gabon at home to qualify.
We knew we needed a point to go through and we held our nerves to achieve that result. I know we have a team with character and nerve and we will hold it well for ourselves.