Burundi and Gambia are set to kick off Group F of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium this Thursday.
After experiencing contrasting fortunes in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, both teams are eager to make a strong start in pursuit of their World Cup aspirations.
Burundi suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Cameroon in the Group C finale of the 2023 AFCON qualifiers on September 12.
This result left them at the bottom of Group C, narrowly missing out on an AFCON appearance by one point.
With a current FIFA World Ranking of 142nd, Burundi has struggled to secure victories in recent matches, winning only one of their last seven games since November 2022.
In contrast, Gambia displayed resilience in their last outing of the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, rallying from a two-goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw against Congo Republic on September 10.
Having secured 10 points from six matches, Gambia finished second in Group G, earning their consecutive AFCON appearance.
While they have yet to feature in the World Cup, Gambia will seek to capitalize on their recent form and secure a strong start in the qualifiers.
Burundi has called up 27 players for the upcoming qualifying matches, including Fiston Abdul Razak and Shassir Nahimana.
On the other hand, Gambia’s 27-man squad features notable names such as Musa Barrow, Baboucarr Gaye, and skipper Omar Colley.
Both squads are gearing up for an intense clash as they aim to kick off their qualifying campaigns on a positive note.
Possible Starting Lineups:
Nduwarugira, Nsabiyumva, Mukombozi;
Aruna, Ndayishimiye, Bigirimana, Nahimana, Omar;
Sundberg, Gomez, Colley, Sanneh;
Manneh, Adams, Barry;
Barrow, Ceesay, Colley
With Gambia heading into the group opener unbeaten in their last three matches, they are poised to face a Burundi side that has struggled to secure victories.
Given the difference in quality between the two teams, we anticipate a 2-0 victory for Gambia in this encounter.