Stoke City of England striker, Saido Berahino has thrown a broadside at his teammate, Oghenekaro Etebo, whose Super Eagles the former West Bromwich Albion attacker believes his side will beat with solidarity at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Although Burundi are going for their first ever edition of the continental soccer showpiece, while Nigeria are thrice winners, four time losing finalists and six time bronze medalists, Berahino believes the spirit of togetherness in The Swallows’ camp will help them overcome the Eagles in their first match this coming Saturday.
Berahino, who played for England at various youth levels before taking the bold step to switch allegiance to his father’s country, boasted that Burundi are ready for the Eagles in their Group B opener.
The 25-year-old striker, who was banned from driving for 30 months and fined £75,000 for being three times over the legal alcohol limit when he was stopped by police in London in February, has continued his majestic form playing for Etebo’s club in the English Championship.
However, due to his recent escapades, The Potters have taken action by cancelling Berahino’s contract, which was due to run until the summer of 2022, but he is apparently non-pulsed by the development.
Berahino captained his side and featured for 75 minutes as Burundi held Algeria to a 1-1 draw in a friendly in Doha, Qatar last week Wednesday, after which he said The Swallows are battle ready for their first-ever AFCON against Etebo’s star-studded side on Saturday, June 22 before facing Madagascar and Guinea in their other Group B games in Egypt.
Born 4 August 1993 in Bujumbura, the then-capital of Burundi, Berahino played football as a child with a ball of plastic bags tied up with laces.
His father was killed in 1997 during the Burundi Civil War, and Berahino fled Burundi as a child.
He received political asylum in Birmingham, and credits football with helping him integrate into English society.
He traveled to England alone at the age of 10, fleeing the war to join his mother, brother and sisters who had been granted asylum in Newtown, Birmingham.
He could not locate his family on arrival, and was put in a care home but, soon after, his mother, Liliane, was traced, and immigration officials had to administer a DNA test to confirm their relationship.
Berahino joined West Brom at the age of 11 and turned professional seven years later, but then spent time out on loan at lower division English Football League clubs Northampton Town, Brentford and Peterborough United.
Berahino represented England at all youth levels, and was part of the under-17 team which won the 2010 European Championship.
He was called up for the first time to the senior team in November 2014 but did not play, then switched his international allegiance to Burundi in August 2018 and scored on his international debut in September.
His remarkable surge into stardom has given him added confidence as a star player with his country’s national team, which he now captain,s and Berahino says Burundi are ready to shock Nigeria in Alexandria, Egypt.
“I want to reassure the Burundian people that we are ready to defend the national colours in Egypt.
“It helped us through the qualifiers and we hope it will help us in the tournament proper.
“Our strength is based on team solidarity,” said Berahino, who joined Stoke from WBA for £12m and played 51 league ties with three goals.