Caf U-17 Championship
Rwanda vs Burkina Faso SS9 (3.30pm)
Senegal vs Egypt
THE long wait is finally over. After all the countdowns to this day, real action kicks off this afternoon with hosts Rwanda taking on Burkina Faso at Amahoro Stadium.
The Junior Wasps head into the tie well aware that a good start is what they need to boost their chances of reaching the last four-a gate pass to the U-17 Fifa World Cup in Mexico slated to run from late June through to July.
Richard Tardy’s only worry is the absence of creative midfielder Shadad Nsengayire. The player damaged his ankle during Wednesday’s training session at Nyamirambo’s Regional stadium and it has now been confirmed that he faces a length spell on the sidelines.
Emmanuel Uwimana who had initially missed out has now been recalled to fill the void.
“We lost a very good player in Nsengayire but that is football. We have to move on,” Tardy told Times Sport.
The former Rennes coach also sounded confident about his team’s chances.
“We are ready for the Burkina Faso challenge and I’m positive that we shall have the last laugh tomorrow (today).”
His opposite number Rui Vieira expects a stern test from the Junior Wasps. “We know very little about Rwanda but we also know that host nations are usually very difficult to beat,” the Portuguese coach conceded.
After the Rwanda-Burkina Faso game, Egypt will lock horns with Senegal in the other Group A game. In the build up to the tournament, Egypt’s coach Taher Abdelhamid has been one of the most vocal coaches insisting that anything short of reaching the semi-final will be disappointing.
“We are here to qualify for the World Cup and win the tournament,” Abdelhamid said.
Like the Junior Wasps, Senegal’s Lion Cubs who are managed by Boucounta Cisse are making their debut in the continental championship after eliminating Ghana in the final qualifying round.
Tomorrow, defending champions Gambia open their title defense against Congo Brazzaville at Rubavu Stadium. The 12.30pm kick-off game will then be followed by a West African clash between Ivory Coast and Mali.
On top of reaching the semi-finals, the top two sides in each group automatically qualify for the World Cup.
Notable absentees this year include two-time African champions Nigeria and Ghana.
Junior Wasps Probable Line-up: Marcel Nzarora, Michel Rusheshangoga, Emery Bayisenge, Faustin Usengimana , Celestin Ndayishimiye, Eric Nsabimana, Robert Ndatimana, Charles Tibingana Mwesigye, Kabanda Bonfils, Andrew Butera and Justin Mico.