Around the Grounds: Kamsoba's AFCON debut

Elvis Kamsoba was four months old when he fled war-torn Burundi with his family, before growing up in a refugee camp in Tanzania.

Over 20 years on and the Melbourne Victory flyer is representing his homeland in Burundi's first appearance at the continent's showpiece tournament, as Kamsoba's side went down 1-0 to Nigeria on Sunday.

Kamsoba came on for forward Francis Mustafa on the hour mark but could not help his side open their Group B account as a brilliant goal from Shanghai Shenhua striker Odion Ighalo consigned Burundi to a 1-0 defeat.

The 2019 African Cup of Nations is being hosted in Egypt from June 21 to July 19.

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Kamsoba, 22, was born in Burundi and spent the first years of his life in a refugee camp in Tanzania, where he fell in love with football, before coming to South Australia as a 12-year-old.

The nation of his birth had previously tried to call him up in March, but Kamsoba declined because of his aim of representing the Caltex Socceroos.

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However, the chance to represent Burundi at the Africa Cup of Nations proved too good to refuse for the pocket-sized speedster, who signed an 18-month contract for Hyundai A-League club Victory last January after impressing for NPL Victoria powerhouse Avondale.

Burundi’s Cup of Nations campaign continues against fellow first-timers Madagascar on June 27, before their final group fixture against Guinea on June 30.

The team is coached by Olivier Niyungeko. Hibernian midfielder Gaël Bigirimana – who played 13 times in the Premier League for Newcastle United – and Stoke City striker Saido Berahino are two of Burundi’s higher-profile players.

Elvis Kamsoba
Kamsoba (right) made his African Cup of Nations debut for Burundi against Nigeria