Ex-England U21 international Saido Berahino eligible to play for Burundi

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BUJUMBURA -- Forward Saido Berahino is eligible to play for Burundi in next month's African Nations Cup qualifiers after FIFA approved his application to switch international allegiance, the country's football federation said on Monday.

The 25-year-old former England Under-21 international had applied for the change as his chances of winning a full England cap receded. He had previously turned down approaches from Burundi.

The Stoke City player could debut next month for the country of his birth, which he fled as a 10-year-old with his mother and siblings. He was granted political asylum in Britain in the wake of the ethnic conflict in the small east African country.

Football's world governing body FIFA allows players to switch allegiance as long as they have not played a competitive senior international and have the nationality of the country they want to represent.

Burundi visit Gabon next month in their second Nations Cup qualifier in Group C, having started their campaign to reach the 2019 finals with a 3-0 home win over South Sudan.