As one of the smaller African countries, Burundi does not have a rich international footballing tradition, and to make matters worse the country's most famous footballer - Shabani Nonda, top scorer in the French league in the 2002/3 season, turned down a request to play for the country, opting instead to play internationally for Congo DR, for which he was also eligible.
Burundi first entered the FIFA World Cup ™ competition for the 1994 edition. Grouped with Algeria and Ghana, the Les Hirondelles (The Sparrows) managed to do well in their home matches, beating Ghana and drawing with Algeria, but lost both games away. In the qualifying competition for France 1998, Burundi twice managed to beat Sierra Leone to advance to the second round, but withdrew before the start of the competition, allowing Sierra Leone a second chance.
Burundi then did not enter for Korea/Japan 2002, but decided to try again for Germany 2006, where they were drawn to play against Gabon in the African pre-preliminary qualifying rounds. The first leg match played in Bujumbura ended in a goalless draw, which put a lot of pressure on Burundi for the return leg. In Libreville, the home side proved much too strong for Burundi as they won 4-1 to eliminate Les Hirondelles from the competition.
Now the East Africans start off on another FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign seeking to build on the progress they showed at the East and Central African Senior Challenge Cup in Tanzania last December, where they reached the semi-finals. In September they also showed their prowess when they held eventual winners Egypt to a goalless draw in a qualifiers for the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ghana.
Burundi's team is led by captain Valery Nahayo, who plays in the South African premier league and they also have a bright prospect in teenage striker Eric Ngama.