Women's Afcon 2022: Burundi striker Falone Sumaili unfazed by Africa's heavyweights

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Falone Sumaili (right) in action for Huddersfield Town WomenHuddersfield Town striker Falone Sumaili will be looking to create history with Burundi in Morocco next month

Burundi striker Falone Sumaili is unfazed by the prospect of playing reigning champions Nigeria and South Africa at this year's Women's Africa Cup of Nations.

The Swallows are one of four sides making their debut after the tournament, which takes place in Morocco from 2-23 July, was expanded from eight to 12 teams.

Burundi are in Group C alongside fellow debutants Botswana, record nine-times winners Nigeria and South Africa, finalists at the last tournament in 2018.

"I see it as an opportunity because we have a rare chance of playing against very experienced sides," Sumaili, who plays in England for Huddersfield Town, told BBC Sport Africa.

"We will gain new experience as players, and for the coach too. But it is also an opportunity for us to showcase our qualities, what we are capable of as a team.

"We are confident we can do great."

Burundi qualified to play at the Women's Nations Cup for the first time after beating Djibouti 11-1 on aggregate in the second round of the play-offs.

Sumaili says playing in Morocco is a dream come true for such a young national team.

"It's such a great joy for us to be able to take part in the Women's Nations Cup given it's only been a few years since our women's national team was formed," she said.

"It is the dream of every female player on the continent and every country to be part of this great tournament."

All the four teams that reach the semi-finals in Morocco will qualify for the 2023 Women's World Cup, but Sumaili says that is not their focus at the moment.

"Qualification itself is a dream that came sooner than we expected and so we will only focus on playing to the best of our abilities, match by match," she said.

Sumaili's family moved to the United Kingdom as refugees in 2015 during a period of civil unrest in Burundi.

In 2019 she joined third-tier side Bradford City, and was the club's top scorer in her first season before moving on to Huddersfield last year.

Apart from Sumaili, Burundi coach Gustave Niyonkuru has strengthened his squad by calling three other Europe-based players.

They include Nduwayo Salha and Sheila Ineza, who both play for Swedish second tier side Husqvarna FF, and Switzerland-based Saffira Guinand, who plays for Yverdon Sport in the country's second-tier.

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