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Burundi qualifies for Africa Cup of Nations for first time

AFCON final: Ghana v Egypt

ANGOLA, LUANDA - JANUARY 31: Egyptian players celebrate winning after the Africa Cup of Nations final match between Ghana and Egypt from Universitaria Stadium on January 31, 2010 in Luanda, Angola. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) Burundi has qualified for the African Cup of Nations for the first time after holding Gabon to a 1-1 draw in Group C to collect the point it needed.

Burundi is the third team set to make its debut at an expanded African Cup in Egypt in June and July. Madagascar and Mauritania had already booked their places.

Burundi’s draw at a packed Prince Louis Rwagasore Stadium on Saturday meant it ousted Gabon and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a spot at the tournament.

After starting cautiously, Burundi led through Cedric Amissi’s goal in the 76th minute. Omar Ngando’s own-goal with eight minutes to go gave Burundi a nervous finish. Victory for Gabon would have seen the Gabonese qualify instead.

Burundi held on to clinch the second qualifying place in the group behind Mali and make history for a country that has been trying to reach Africa’s top tournament since 1976.

This year’s African Cup has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams, opening the way for unheralded teams like Madagascar, Mauritania and now Burundi to qualify.