Burundi gained a massive advantage in their TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualification dream in the best possible way after thrashing Djibouti 6-1 at the Stade Urukundo in Ngozi.
The Swallows, who are unranked by FIFA, are now 90 minutes away from the 2022 Nations Cup as they look to qualify for their first major international tournament.
Fresh from beating Ethiopia 6-0 over two legs in the first round, the home side raced into a 4-1 lead by half-time in Ngozi, before adding another two goals after the break.
Burundi had cruised past debutants Eritrea 6-0 on aggregate to reach the final round last October, while opponents Djibouti earned their progression following the surprise withdrawal of Rwanda.
The home side continued from where they left off in the first round, getting themselves in front when Rukiya Bizimana opened the scoring with a fine finish in the 19th minute of the contest.
Five minutes later, captain Asha Djafari doubled the lead for the hosts with a powerful shot from outside the box to beat Djibouti goalkeeper Soubane Ahmed Omar.
With a 2-0 down, the visitors pushed for a comeback in the encounter and profited from the hosts’ defensive mix up to pull one back through Larman Abdoul in the 33rd minute.
The rampant Burundians extended the lead thanks to Sandrine Niyonkuru’s easy tap in after goalkeeper Omar failed to make a crucial save in the 40th minute. On the brink of half time, Uwimana Aniella headed in the fourth goal of the encounter for coach Gustave Niyonkuru’s side to put the contest beyond the visitors.
At the restart, Djibouti managed to hold up for some duration until Sandrine Niyonkuru and Bizimana grabbed their braces of the match in the 75th and 79th minutes respectively to complete the rout. With the huge triumph, the Burundians have put one hand on the coveted ticket to Morocco 2022, but will need to avoid an upset in the second leg at the same Stadium on Tuesday, February 22.
Both CECAFA teams are eyeing their first ever berth in their history at the African women’s football championship and the eventual aggregate winner after February 22 meeting will achieve their dream.
Meanwhile, Zambia and Namibia played out a goalless draw in an earlier game on Wednesday.
Zambia previously reached the 2014 and 2018 Nations cups while Namibia’s only appearances were in the 2014 tournament.
Twenty countries face two-legged play-offs to qualify for the tournament in Morocco, with the first legs taking place 16-18 February and the returns between 21-23 February.
Africa’s representatives for the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be decided at the Nations Cup, with the semi-finalists all booking spots in Australia and New Zealand.